“Fortitudo Dei”, one of the three archangels mentioned in the Bible. Only four appearances of Gabriel are recorded:
- In Dan., viii, he explains the vision of the horned ram as portending the destruction of the Persian Empire by the Macedonian Alexander the Great, after whose death the kingdom will be divided up among his generals, from one of whom will spring Antiochus Epiphanes.
- In chapter ix, after Daniel had prayed for Israel, we read that “the man Gabriel . . . . flying swiftly touched me” and he communicated to him the mysterious prophecy of the “seventy weeks” of years which should elapse before the coming of Christ. In chapter x, it is not clear whether the angel is Gabriel or not, but at any rate we may apply to him the marvelous description in verses 5 and 6.
- In the New Testament he foretells to Zachary the birth of the Precursor, and
- to Mary that of the Savior.
As remarked above, Gabriel is mentioned only twice in the New Testament, but it is not unreasonable to suppose with Christian tradition that it is he who appeared to St. Joseph and to the shepherds, and also that it was he who “strengthened” Our Lord in the garden (cf. the Hymn for Lauds on 24 March). Gabriel is generally termed only an archangel, but the expression used by St. Raphael, “I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” (Tob., xii, 15) and St. Gabriel’s own words, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God” (Luke 1, 19), have led some to think that these angels must belong to the highest rank; but this is generally explained as referring to their rank as the highest of God’s messengers, and not as placing them among the Seraphim and Cherubim (cf. St. Thomas, I, Q. cxii, a.3; III, Q. xxx, a.2, ad 4um).