Angel pointing to heaven

Angelo che indica il cielo
This angel that raises his eyes and points a finger towards heaven is on the north-eastern spire. If the whole composition of spires were a procession with Mary in triumph, then he would precede the Virgin by a few steps, indicating He from whom this glory comes. If an angel is linked to the Madonna, then, it must be Gabriel, the “Fortress of God”, the messenger to whom the Lord entrusts his most delicate missions. We can find him in the Old Testament, in the Talmud, in the New Testament, in the apocryphal gospels, in the Koran and in profane mysticism. There is no angel that has had more fortune: besides anghelos is a Greek word meaning “messenger”, and this makes Gabriel the perfect angel. Gabriel, in the Hebrew Kabbalah, is one of the ten Sephirot, that is emanations of God, the ways of the Lord, “Light without Limits”, by which the Infinite (Ein Sof) reveals himself creating, eternally, both the real world and all the metaphysical worlds. Of these ten emanations, Gabriel is Ghevurah, the Strength. He is often called “the man dressed in linen”. Not just a messenger, Gabriel is also the celestial scribe, he reveals prophetic dreams and leads the angels who guard the Seventy Nations, that is the seventy peoples descended from Noah. According to the Talmud, he was the voice that ordered Noah to gather all the animals, the voice that stopped Abraham with Isaac on the altar, the voice of the burning bush that spoke to Moses. Yet, when necessary, he is also the warrior armed with a scythe against the enemies of Israel. In the New Testament, the most important message is entrusted to Gabriel: announcing the coming of Christ. In a later tradition, he is thought to be the angel who will announce the Day of Judgement by blowing his horn. In Islam Gabriel, in Arabic Jibril, is the angel who announces the Koran to Mohammed, and who is thought to have brought to earth the Qaaba, the black stone guarded in Mecca, to which pilgrimages are made, that is said to have become black because it has absorbed all the sins of mankind. Mohammed saw the archangel, when he accompanied him to Paradise, and said that he had six hundred wings. Today Muslims claim that once a year Gabriel comes down to earth, on an unspecified night during the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan: the “Night of Destiny”. According to profane mysticism, Gabriel is linked to water and is said to have a horse named Haizum; he is said to be the leader of the hosts of Cherubim, governor of the Moon and the seventh angel that presides in the presence of God. Furthermore, in the Book of Enoch, an Ethiopian Christian text considered to apocryphal even by Judaism, it is said that Gabriel sits on the left of God, beside Metatron, God's scribe and Angel of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Gabriel therefore represents a world of beliefs, religions, mysticisms or just stories. Certainly he is the angel of messages, the announcer of important information. However, in the Talmud it is remembered that he too once committed an error, that of not perfectly obeying an order he received, he was banished from the “Celestial Veil” for 21 days. Gabriel point outs heaven to us, the furthest horizon upon which we may look, and he shows us his wings, a means for taking flight, reminding us that anyone may err, but he can bring us back to earth only for a brief period.