Our father among the saints Gregory the Theologian

Our father among the saints Gregory the Theologian

Our father among the saints Gregory the Theologian, also known as Gregory of Nazianzus (though that name more appropriately refers to his father) and Gregory the Younger, was a great father and teacher of the Church. His feast day is celebrated on January 25 and that of the translation of his relics on January 19. With Sts. Basil the Great and John Chrysostom, he is numbered among the Three Holy Hierarchs, whose feast day is celebrated on January 30. St. Gregory is also known as one of the Cappadocian Fathers.


He was born in 329 in Arianzus, a village of the second district of Cappadocia, not far from Nazianzus. His father, who later became Bishop of Nazianzus, was named Gregory (commemorated Jan. 1), and his mother was named Nonna (Aug. 5); both are among the saints, and so are his brother Caesarius (Mar. 9) and his sister Gorgonia (Feb. 23).

At first he studied in Caesarea of Palestine, then in Alexandria, and finally in Athens. As he was sailing from Alexandria to Athens, a violent sea storm put in peril not only his life but also his salvation, since he had not yet been baptized. With tears and fervor he besought God to spare him, vowing to dedicate his whole self to Him, and the tempest gave way to calm. At Athens St. Gregory was later joined by St. Basil the Great, whom he already knew, but now their acquaintanceship grew into a lifelong brotherly love. Another fellow student of theirs in Athens was the young Prince Julian, who later as emperor was called the Apostate because he denied Christ and did all in his power to restore paganism. Even in Athens, before Julian had thrown off the mask of piety, St. Gregory saw what an unsettled mind he had, and said, "What an evil the Roman State is nourishing" (Orat. V, 24, PG 35:693).

After their studies at Athens, Gregory became Basil's fellow ascetic, living the monastic life together with him for a time in the hermitages of Pontus. His father ordained him presbyter of the Church of Nazianzus, and St. Basil consecrated him Bishop of Sasima (or Zansima), which was in the archdiocese of Caesarea. This consecration was a source of great sorrow to Gregory and a cause of misunderstanding between him and Basil, but his love for Basil remained unchanged, as can be plainly seen from his Funeral Oration on Saint Basil (Orat. XLIII).

About the year 379, St. Gregory came to the assistance of the Church of Constantinople, which had already been troubled for forty years by the Arians; by his supremely wise words and many labors he freed it from the corruption of heresy. He was elected archbishop of that city by the Second Ecumenical Council, which assembled there in 381, and condemned Macedonius, Archbishop of Constantinople, as an enemy of the Holy Spirit. When St. Gregory came to Constantinople, the Arians had taken all the churches, and he was forced to serve in a house chapel dedicated to St. Anastasia the Martyr. From there he began to preach his famous five sermons on the Trinity, called the Triadica. When he left Constantinople two years later, the Arians did not have one church left to them in the city. St. Meletius of Antioch (see Feb. 12), who was presiding over the Second Ecumenical Council, died in the course of it, and St. Gregory was chosen in his stead; there he distinguished himself in his expositions of dogmatic theology.

Having governed the Church until 382, he delivered his farewell speech-the Syntacterion, in which he demonstrated the Divinity of the Son - before 150 bishops and the Emperor Theodosius the Great. Also in this speech he requested, and received from all, permission to retire from the See of Constantinople. He returned to Nazianzus, where he lived to the end of his life. He reposed in the Lord in 391, having lived some sixty-two years.

His extant writings, both prose and poems in every type of meter, demonstrate his lofty eloquence and his wondrous breadth of learning. In the beauty of his writings, he is considered to have surpassed the Greek writers of antiquity, and because of his God-inspired theological thought, he received the surname "Theologian." Although he is sometimes called Gregory of Nazianzus, this title belongs properly to his father; he himself is known by the Church only as Gregory the Theologian.

25 january: * Venerable Castinus of Byzantium, Bishop of Byzantium (240); Martyr Medula and her entourage; Venerable Apollo of the Thebaid, ascetic and wonderworker, reposed in peace (ca. 361-363); Saint Bretanion (Vetranion), Bishop of Tomis in Moesia, Confessor (ca. 380); Venerable Publius of Syria, ascetic of Euphratensis in Syria (380); Venerable Theodotos, Igumen of the "Monastery of St. Publius"; Saint Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople (390); Venerable Mares the Singer, of Omeros near Cyrrhus (430); Venerable Demetrius the Skevophylax ("Keeper of the Sacred Vessels") of Constantinople (8th century); Martyrs Felicitas of Rome and seven sons (c. 164): Januarius, Felix, Philip, Silvanus, Alexander, Vitalis, and Martial (see also November 23 in the West); Saint Artemas, a child martyr in Pozzuoli (Puteoli) in Italy; Saint Dwynwen, Virgin of Llandwyn (c. 460); Saint Eochod of Galloway, Apostle of the Picts of Galloway (597); Saint Maurus (584) and Saint Placidus (6th century), early disciples of St Benedict; Saint Sigeberht of East Anglia (Sigebert), the first Christian King of East Anglia in England (634); Saint Racho of Autun (Ragnobert), Bishop of Autun in France (c. 660); Hieromartyr Praejectus (Priest, Prest, Preils, Prix), Bishop of Clermont (676); Saint Amarinus, Abbot of a monastery in the Vosges in France, companion in martyrdom of St Praejectus (St Priest) (676); Saint Thorgyth (Tortgith), nun at the convent of Barking in England with St Ethelburgh (c. 700); Saint Poppo of Stavelot, Abbot of Stavelot-Malmédy in Belgium, renowned for miracles (1048); Saint Moses of Novgorod, Archbishop of Novgorod (1362); Saint Gregory of Golutvin (15th century); Saint Basian, Archbishop of Rostov (1516) (see also March 23); New Martyr Auxentius of Constantinople (1720); Saint Anatole I (Zertsalov) of Optina Monastery, Elder of Optina (1894); Saint Gabriel, Bishop of Imereti (Georgia) (1896); New Hieromartyr Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky), Metropolitan of Kiev, Protomartyr of the Communist yoke in Russia (1918); Venerable New Martyr St. Elizabeth Romanova (Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine (1864–1918)) (1918); Venerable New Martyr Abbess Margaret (Gunaronulo) of Menzelino (1918); New Hieromartyr Peter (Zverev), Archbishop of Voronezh (1929); New Hieromartyr Basil (Zelentsov), Bishop of Priluki (1930); New Martyr Athanasia (Lepeshkin), Abbess of the Smolensk Hodigitria Convent, near Moscow (1931); New Hieromartyr Stephen Grachev, Priest (1938); New Martyr Boris Zavarin (1938); Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia (celebrated on the Sunday nearest to January 25); Other Commemorations: Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos "Assuage My Sorrow" (1640); Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos "Unexpected Joy"; Repose of Archpriest Sergius Orlov of Akulovo (1975)

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