The Archangel Gabriel (“man of God” or “God’s strength” in Hebrew) is, according to some theological books, the servant of Divine mysteries. The Old Testament reads that the Lord sent the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Daniel to explain him the meaning of his vision. “And it came to pass, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice… which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision”. (Daniel 8: 15–16). The Archangel Gabriel said to Daniel: “Understand , O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision (Daniel 8: 17), and, explaining this vision, prophesied the coming of Christ, His putting to death and the destruction of Jerusalem. Episodes concerning Gabriel are also to be found in non-canonical books (the Book of Enoch).
The images of the Archangel Gabriel date from the 3rd century AD. Such is, for example, a 3rd century depiction of the Annunciation in the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome, portraying Gabriel as a wingless young man in a white tunic and a pallium. The first depictions of the Archangel Gabriel with wings and a halo appeared in the 5th century, deriving from antique images of winged geniuses and goddess Nika. From the 6th century Gabriel was depicted as the Archistrategos of the heavenly host dressed in a chiton and a cloak with a tablion, and a labarum in his hands, such as in the mosaics at the Triumphal Arch in the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in-Classe in Ravenne (ca. 549 AD). Compositions portraying Gabriel as the guardian of the Heavenly King represent him as a courtier of a Byzantine emperor, wearing dalmatic, tippets and boots decorated with gold and stones. This iconographic type has been known since the 7th century; especially widespread it was in the post-iconoclastic epoch. The Archangel Gabriel is typically depicted with voluminous hair supported by a headband. The headband’s ends freely wave, thus showing the archangel’s readiness to listen to God’s will. He may hold a labarum with the words of the thrice-holy hymn inscribed thereon, a branch, a scroll or a thin measuring rod. He may also hold a staff – the symbol of his being God’s messenger – or a mirror - a transparent sphere looking at which angels see the reflection of God who they don’t dare to look at. The mirror typically carries the initial letters of the Savior (IC XC), or sometimes a depiction of the Infant Christ Emmanuel or the Golgotha Cross.
In medieval Russian art the image of the Archangel Gabriel was an essential part of the Deesis tier. The icon was placed to the right of the Savior, therefore the figure of the archangel is represented leftward in a devotional pose. Such is a full-length image of the Archangel Gabriel of the last quarter of the 14th century from the Deesis tier of the Annunciation Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin.
The feast day of the Archangel Gabriel is celebrated on April 8 (March 26, the old style), July 26 (July 13, the old style) and November 21 (November 8, the old style).