Archimandrite Gabriel, Hermit of the Kudak Wilderness

“Archimandrite Gabriel — an Orthodox monk from the Podlasie province in Poland — is the founder and sole inhabitant of the Kudak grove hermitage by river Narew. During his first few years there, he lived and prayed in a wagon house, without electricity, running water, or contact with the outside world. After five years, thanks to the help of people of Orthodox faith from local villages, the grove saw the rise of a wooden church, a dormitory for monks, and outbuildings.
Pilgrims are drawn to the place by archimandrite Gabriel’s personality: he can find common ground with anyone, he grants spiritual advice, heals with herbs, and keeps bees. When necessary, he rolls up his sleeves and works on building the hermitage right alongside everyone else.
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The archimandrite’s biggest concern is finding a successor. Prospective monks don’t last long in the hermitage, however. They can’t stand the lack of access to civilization, common comforts, and contact with their peers.”

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“The documentary film “Archimandrite” directed by Jerzy Kalina has won a prize from the International Documentary Film Festival and Television Programme “Radonezh” in Moscow. “Radonezh” is the oldest review and contest of the film productions about religion in Russia. It takes place under the patronage of Patriarch Kirill and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. In the competition among TV productions, “Archimandrite” was the only film from Poland. This is the seventh prize for the film about Father Gabriel, a monk from Podlasie, who has built the only Orthodox hermitage in Poland in the village Odrynki on Narew river bank.
Archimandrite Gabriel is the founder and sole inhabitant of a hermitage in the Kudak wilderness on the river bank of Narew. For the first few years he lived there alone and prayed in a portacabin, without electricity, running water, completely cut off from the outside world. After some time, with the help of local Orthodox villagers, in the wilderness stood the wooden church, small monastery and outbuildings. Today this place is visited by dozens of pilgrims. They are attracted by the extraordinary personality of Archimandrite Gabriel. With each he can find a common language, provides spiritual counseling, heals with herbs, breeds bees, and when necessary, pitches up and along with the other builds a hermitage. But will it be forever? Will the hermit find their successor in his life? The next candidates for the monastic life in the hermitage cannot withstand long … They cannot live without comforts, the gains of civilization and contact with peers. Jerzy Kalina’s film is more than a story about an exceptional man and his work. In the lazy Narew currents no less than crosses of Orthodox skithe our globalized world is reflected, facing away from spiritual values, craving for money and exchange of information. The strength of “Archimandrite” is that the author has managed to simultaneously touch of the local, rooted in the Belarusian-Orthodox Podlasie microcosm and universal values, fundamental in human life, regardless of age and his place in the world. For many Polish viewers this picture is also a surprising discovery of the richness of cultures and religions of our eastern border.
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Awards for the movie: Golden Melchior in the category “Inspiration of the Year” All-Poland Reporter’s Competition MELCHIORY 2012 by Polish Radio. Jury’s award of The International Catholic Festival of Christian Films and TV Programs MAGNIFICAT 2012 in Minsk, Belarus, 2012 The award for Best Cinematography at the Kyiv International Documentary Film Festival KINOLITOPYS 2012, Ukraine First prize in the documentary category of the International Orthodox Film Festival “Pokrov”, Kiev 2012 The “Bronze Turoni [barnyard animal]” International Festival ETNOFILM CADCA 2012, Cadca, Slovakia First prize in the documentary category of the International Charity Festival “Shining Angel” 2012, Moscow, Russia Award International Documentary Film Festival and Television Programme “Radonezh” 2012, Moscow”
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The documentary, with English subtitles, can be viewed at and at
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““Archimandrite” is a charming little documentary about a hermit in Poland, struggling with love and patience to establish a monastic skete there. He meets with temptations and trials but faces them with Christian peace and hope – showing us how we can do likewise when we encounter difficulties. I particularly enjoyed seeing the positive reception of the surrounding community to the holy monk; he is truly an impressive person.
Something else that had a big impact on me was at the end when the Archimandrite is asked, “Father, is it easy being a hermit in our times?” And Archimandrite Gabriel answers with an example. Three young men came to stay with him to see if they might be called to live the monastic life. The first lasted only 6 hours. The second stayed one day, but by 2:30AM his bags were packed and he was ready to leave. The third managed to stay 2 days, but was also ready to leave by 5:30AM. When the hermit asked them the reason they did not want to stay they all gave the same answer. Can you guess? I did. It was the silence. “The terrible silence.” They couldn’t handle it.
And this leads me to ask myself, and you can ask yourself, could you handle the silence? If not, what are we doing wrong and how can we change our dependency on noise?”
“Saints Anthony and Theodosius of Kiev Skete in Odrynki (northeastern Poland) was founded in 2009 by archimandrite Gabriel (Giba), the former abbot of the Annunciation Lavra in Supraśl. It is under the spiritual guidance of the Supraśl Lavra. The choice of the place to create the skete was not accidental. From XVII to XIX century there was Ascension Monastery in there. According to local tradition that area had been also inhabited by hermits even before. It’s currently the only one skete in the Polish Orthodox Church.”
see also
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“Thursday evening [8 December 2011], the police in Hajnówka was informed about the devastation of the Saints Anthony and Theodosius of Kiev Skete in Odrynki.
Press officer of the Police in Hajnówka asp. Irena Kuptel reported that there were destroyed, among other things, seven hives, trees at the footbridge, the cross from the dome at the entrance gate to the Skete. The main power cord was cut and the Skete’s tractor was pushed into a pond.
Father Gabriel, the Abbot of the Skete, would like to thank all those who support him, are helping in organising the Skete and those who guarded the Skete all night after the incident. He also asks everyone for prayers.”


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