Most people probably know of the angel Gabriel because of his role in the Nativity. He was the one who told the Virgin Mary that she was to give birth to Christ (Luke 1:26-38). The New Testament says that he also informed St Zechariah about the birth of St John the Baptist (Luke 1:11-20).
However, we first meet St Gabriel in the Old Testament, in the book of Daniel. The book describes how St Gabriel visited the prophet Daniel while he was in exile in Babylon. The angel was sent to deliver a series of messages and to help the prophet to understand various visions.
The angel Gabriel (which means ‘God is my strength’) appeared several times to Daniel. He spoke to him about upcoming political developments in the Middle East that would affect the Jewish people. He also reassured Daniel that his prayers for the people to be forgiven had been heard.
Most importantly, St Gabriel also spoke to him about the future coming of the “Anointed One”, otherwise known as the Messiah, or Christ. St Gabriel warned Daniel that “the Anointed One will be cut off”, shortly before the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by “the troops of the prince who is to come.” (Daniel 9:26)
St Gabriel would later close the loop on this prophecy when he visited the Virgin Mary to announce that she would give birth to the Messiah. And true to St Gabriel’s prediction, Christ was indeed put to death not long before Jerusalem and its Temple were destroyed. The Roman army attacked Jerusalem in 70 AD, “as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel.” (Matthew 24:1-3; 15-16)
This stained glass image of St Gabriel is part of a wider window also featuring St Michael the Archangel and the Coronation of the Virgin. Found within the sanctuary of Our Lady Queen of Peace, Braintree, it was made by Geoffrey Webb in 1944 and was a gift of US airmen stationed nearby during the war.
St Gabriel is pictured holding a thurible (incense burner). This may be a reference to his later appearance to St Zechariah, during the hour of incense (Luke 1:9-11). The window contains scenes that relate to the life of the Virgin Mary; here St Gabriel is included due to his role in The Annunciation.
See the full image:
Plaque explaining the origin of the window:
Where to find this work of art
Our Lady Queen of Peace, Braintree
Read the relevant passage
On a similar theme
- From the Old Testament: The book of Daniel also introduces another of the archangels, St Michael.
- From the New Testament: St Gabriel visited the Virgin Mary in Nazareth to inform her that she was pregnant with the Christ Child.