Fast Facts:
  • Pronunciation: GAY-bree-el
  • Origin: Old Testament
  • Role: Archangel
  • Symbol: White Lily

Who Is Gabriel?

Gabriel is an angel who is known as a messenger. He delivers messages to people from God. He is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments, along with several other religious texts.

Purpose

Gabriel’s main purpose is to deliver messages. In the Catholic religion, he is known as the patron saint of messengers, telecommunication workers, and postal workers. September 29 is his feast day, celebrated with Michael and Raphael as well.

He is said to help people remain open and honest and always seek the truth, in themselves and others. He helps guide through intuition. He also protects children.

One of Gabriel’s possible future purposes is to blow the trumpet to indicate Jesus’ return to Earth. But there is speculation with this fact, as several people have been designated with this task. Different Bible passages point to different people.

Origins

Depending on the religious text being viewed, Gabriel is one of several other archangels. According to Jewish tradition, there are seven total archangels, with Gabriel being the second in rank. In the Bible, only Michael and Gabriel are mentioned out of the seven listed in Jewish text. But only Michael is directly referred to as an archangel.

Legends and Stories

There are not many stories of Gabriel found in religious text. But of the ones we do have, they give us a clear understanding of why Gabriel is known as a messenger.

Gabriel and David

In the Book of David, we find Daniel coming to terms that the 70-year period of Israel’s captivity is coming to an end. The Jews will be able to return to their own land with time. Daniel prays with hope for himself and his people. His prayer is answered, but not as expected. God sends Gabriel to Daniel, who helps him interpret and understand his visions. With this new understanding, Daniel is able to see that the future is bright. God wanted Daniel to understand that the future of Israel was part of God’s promise to restore the Jews. He wanted Daniel to understand that Israel’s return was not a sign of the coming of the kingdom but a step towards rebuilding the temple and fulfilling God’s plan. Gabriel appears to Daniel a total of three times to help him with visions.

Gabriel and the Virgin Mary

God sent Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. He was to find a virgin named Mary, who was pledged to marry a man by the name of Joseph, a descendant of David. Gabriel found Mary and told her that she was highly favored by the Lord.

Mary was at first concerned with Gabriel’s wording. She didn’t know if the angel had come to give her good or bad news. Gabriel consoled Mary, telling her not to worry. Again, he told her how special she was in the eyes of God and that she would give birth to a son. She was to name the baby Jesus. The baby was going to be the Son of God.

Again, Mary was confused. She asked Gabriel how this was possible. She wasn’t pregnant and she was a virgin, saving herself for her upcoming marriage to Joseph. Gabriel again addressed her concerns, telling her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and God would overshadow her. Gabriel told Mary that nothing was impossible with God.

Mary proclaimed herself t to be a servant of the Lord and agreed to Gabriel’s message. Gabriel then left. Mary did become pregnant and gave birth to Jesus in the Christmas story known by so many.

Family

Angels do not have families in the traditional sense. But they are all considered to be children of God.

Appearance

In artistic representations, Gabriel is often shown clothed in white or blue. He is often carrying a white lily. Other times, he’s holding a trumpet, shining lantern, branch from Paradise, or a scroll. He is often shown in a scene depicting the Annunciation.

Symbology

The most common symbol associated with Gabriel is the white lily. The flower stands for purity and truth. Another symbol of the archangel is a bird quill and ink. This symbolizes his main purpose of serving as a messenger for God.

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