I have tried to improve expression.
The Gerontissa Gabrielia (Gavrielia) was born in Constantinople (
Konstantinoupoli or Istanbul) more than a hundred years ago on [[October 15]], 1897 to Helias and Victoria Papayanni(s), was the fourth and last child of the family, the mostly loved one (Alexandros, her brother (1st), Vasiliki (2nd) and Paulina (3rd), her sisters).
In 1945 she returned to Greece where she worked with the Friends Refugee Mission and the American Farm School in Thessalonika in early post-war years. Later she opened her own therapy office in Athens until 1954. In March of that year her mother died and the office was closed. Sister Gabrielia left Greece and traveled overland to India where she worked with the poorest of the poor, even the lepers, for five years. She worked with Baba Amte and his family who built and organised village-communities for the lepers of India. She
kept no penny in her pocket! Just trusted herself in His hands.
In 1959, she went to the [[Monastery]] of Mary and Martha in Bethany, Palestine, to become a nun. When she arrived she asked Fr. Theodosius the [[chaplain]] for a rule of prayer. Fr. Theodosius was somewhat surprised to find that she could read
even ancient Byzantine Greek. Fr. Theodosius said, "The great elders that we hear about no longer exist. I certainly am not one. You came here to save your soul. If I start giving you rules, you will lose your soul and I will as well. But here is Fr. [[John Climacus|John]]. He will be your elder." So for her first year in the monastery he set her to reading only the [[Gospels]] and St. John Climacus. (It should be noted that at that time the Ladder had not been published in modern Greek.)
was three years in Bethany. In April, 1962, word came that [[Patriarch]] [[Athenagoras I (Spyrou) of Constantinople|Athenagoras of Constantinople]] sought to send an Orthodox monastic to [http://www.taize.fr/ Taize ] in France. Sister Gabrielia went by way of Taize (she spoke fluent French from childhood) to America.
She traveled extensively, with much concern and broad love for the people of God. Some of her spiritual children found her in Jerusalem beside the Tomb of Christ; others found her on the mission field of East Africa. In the 50s and 60s she
used to have a few thousands of spiritual friends from all over the world ! And she used to pray for everybody day and night!
For years beginning in about 1977, she lived hidden in a little apartment, the "House of the Angels" in Patissia in the midst of the noise and smog and confusion of central Athens.
A little place, a hidden place , a precious place to those who knew her there.
In 1989 she moved to Holy Protection
hermitage on the island of Aegina, close by the shrine of St. [[Nectarios of Aegina|Nectarios]]. There she called the last two of her spiritual children to become [[monastics]] near her, and there she continued to receive many visitors. At the start of Great Lent in 1990 she was hospitalized for lymphatic cancer. She was forty days in the hospital, leaving during [[Holy Week]] and receiving [[Eucharist| communion]] on [[Pascha]]. And to the puzzlement of the doctors, the cancer disappeared. It was not yet her time.
The Gerontissa finally withdrew to
quiet. With only one last nun, she moved for the last time in this life, to the island of Leros. There they established the [[hesychastarion]] of the Holy [[Archangel|Archangels]]. Only in this last year of her life did she accept the [[Tonsure|Great Schema]] at the hands of Fr. Dionysious from [[Little St. Anne's Skete (Athos)|Little St. Anne's Skete]] on [[Mount Athos]]. He came to give her the Schema in the Chapel of the Panaghia in the Kastro on the top of Leros.
Gerontissa Gabrielia passed from this world on [[March 28]], 1992, having never built a [[monastery]]. Over the years, six of her spiritual children did become monastics, but never more than one or two were with her at a time. Only the [[angels]] could count the number of lives that God touched and changed through her. Her biography and collected writings were published in Greek in 1996, through the work of her last monastic daughter and the contribution of many, many others who held the Gerontissa dear.