Georgia: Pilgrims seek wish fulfilment at monk's tomb

Crowds flock to Father Gabriel's grave

Pilgrims have flocked to a saint's tomb in Georgia in the hope their wishes will be granted, it appears.

Father Gabriel - who died in 1995 and was later canonized - was rumoured to have made the promise in a vision to a local nun, a story that spread through social media and word of mouth.

Two wishes would supposedly be granted to those who arrived at the tomb before Orthodox Christmas - which falls today.

Priests were quick to denounce the "vision", however. Hegumen Kirion Machaidze took to Facebook to accuse the visitors of "idol worship" and of treating Father Gabriel like a "genie".

Church leaders were finally forced to release a statement which declared "The notion that everyone will have all of their wishes granted cannot be true, as those requests which are pleasing to God and which are in line with the will of the Lord are fulfilled, not just any desire."

The nun later came forward to say there had been no such vision. She had asked Father Gabriel to grant people's wishes so as to strengthen their faith, and says she received a "sign" it would happen.

Crowds still rushed to the grave in Mtskheta, though. Georgian Public TV reported that extra police units had been deployed to control traffic on Christmas Eve, and some people were pitching tents for an all-night vigil in the freezing cold.

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