Saint Gabriel was a monk of the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos. In summer he would withdraw to the inaccessible cliffs, and in winter he would return to the monastery and observe a strict rule of silence. Clad in a coarse robe and eating nothing but roots and herbs, Saint Gabriel was truly a “heavenly man and an earthly angel.”
Once, at dusk, the monks of the monastery beheld a pillar of light shining forth upon the sea. The vision lasted for several days, and finally monks from every monastery on the Holy Mountain gathered and descended together to the sea.
They beheld an icon of the Mother of God shining brilliantly and floating upright upon the surface of the water. The fathers lowered a boat onto the water, hoping to bring the icon back with them to the shore, but each time their boat approached the icon, it drifted farther out to sea.
Finally the frustrated monks offered prayers and supplications to God in order to discern His will, and the Most Holy Theotokos appeared in a divine revelation and told them that the monk Gabriel alone was worthy to bring the icon bearing her image out from the sea. At the same time, she appeared to the God-fearing Gabriel and told him, “Enter onto the sea and walk out upon the waves with faith, and I will send my love and mercy upon all the monks of this monastery.”
The elders of Mt. Athos located the rocky dwelling of the hermit Gabriel not far from the Iveron Monastery. They brought Gabriel with them and went down to the sea with hymns and censing. Gabriel stepped out onto the water and, walking upon the waves as upon dry land, approached the icon. At the same time, the holy image drew nearer to him. Clutching the holy icon to his breast, Gabriel crossed back over the waves and delivered the icon safely to the shore. (The story of the miraculous Iveron Icon of the Theotokos is recounted in detail in the commemorations for February 12.)
Saint Gabriel reposed peacefully on Mt. Athos.