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Monday, December 21, 2015

Child Martyr

It was common to read in the Lives Of The Saints titles such as "St. Stephen, Deacon, Martyr", which served to sum up Stephen's role in the early church and add the important point that he was a martyr, and we all knew that martyrs went straight to heaven...
They passed by Purgatory and went to their reward, martyrdom having cleansed them of all remora of human sins.

There is a special category of Child Martyr for children who were murdered for the faith. Saint Vasilissa is one, and St. Prisca is another.

When the Roman Empire had passed away, and no longer were Christians, children nor adults, being persecuted for their faith, there still were children martyrs:

The holy youth Martyr Gabriel was born in 1684 in the village of Zverka, Zabludov diocese, to a pious peasant couple, Peter and Anastasia Govdel. He was baptized in the Dormition church of the Zabludov monastery and received the name Gabriel in honor of the Archangel.

Besides the meekness and guilelessness normally found in children, the young Gabriel was marked by characteristics uncommon to his age. He had, for example, a reflective nature and a mature perception of the action of Divine Providence in people's lives. It is not surprising that he inclined more towards prayer and solitude than towards the amusements which occupied his peers.

In 1690 tragedy visited the GovdeI family. One day the unsuspecting mother, leaving the six-year old Gabriel alone in the house, took some food to his father who was out plowing the fields. While she was gone a local tenant came to the house. Taking advantage of the parents' absence and the child's trusting nature, he kidnapped the boy.

Gabriel was taken secretly to the town of Bialystok and given over to sadistic torture. His side was pierced and a special instrument was inserted which gradually drained his blood. After nine days of such treatment the boy died. Desiring to conceal such a vile deed, the murderer secretly took the body and threw it onto the edge of a field near some woods in the vicinity of the boy's home village.

The holy Feast of Pascha approached. Hungry dogs began gathering around the lifeless body, predatory birds circled overhead. Miraculously the body remained untouched. Not only did the dogs refrain from devouring it, they even guarded it against the birds.

This account very much reeks of the Blood Libel, by which Jews were accused of sacrificing a Christian child for Passover.

In fact, if you look up "blood libel" in Wikipedia, you come across an identical account:
The only child-saint in the Russian Orthodox Church is the six-year-old boy Gavriil Belostoksky from the village Zverki. According to the legend supported by the church, the boy was kidnapped from his home during the holiday of Passover while his parents were away. Shutko, who was a Jew from Białystok, was accused of bringing the boy to Białystok, poking him with sharp objects and draining his blood for nine days, then bringing the body back to Zverki and dumping it at a local field. A cult developed, and the boy was canonized in 1820. His relics are still the object of pilgrimage. On All Saints Day, July 27, 1997, the Belorussian state TV showed a film alleging the story is true.

It never dies.
It is not just an excuse for a pogrom against Jews.
No, it is an Apotropaic Rite mankind uses to turn their minds away from the evils they do, for by focusing on a legendary abuse of children, we forget our own child abuse and child beatings and child murders.

Let us remember the children of Iraq.
Let us remember the children of Syria.
Remember the children of Palestine and Israel!

Remember the Five Daughter Martyrs of Tali Hatuel!

Remember Ali Dawabsheh,  child and martyr, sacrificed to our politics!

Remember all the children so harshly sacrificed to the Moloch of This, Our Age!

Forgive us,


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