St. Gregory Nazianzus
St. Gregory Nazianzus
Saint Gregory of Nazianzus is also called Gregory Nazianzen or Gregory the Theologian in some parts of history.
He was born in the year 328 A.D. in Arianzus, Cappadocia. His place of birth has been traced to a family estate of Karbala on the outskirts of Arianzus.
His parents were Greek people named Nonna and Gregory. They were wealthy Christians who raised Gregory in the way of the Catholics.
However, It had not always been so. Gregory Senior had not always been a Christian. Nonna had converted her husband from Hypsistarii to Christianity. Hypsistarians were people under a sect that combine pagan views with Judaism.
After Gregory Senior became a Christian in 325 A.D., he was appointed bishop of Nazianzus around 329. After Saint Gregory was born, he was raised in Christian ways and sent to the best schools that his father could afford.
Gregory and his brother Caesarius received initial education at home from their uncle Amphylokhios. After this, Saint Gregory continued to study advanced rhetoric and philosophy in cities like Nazianzus, Caesarea, Alexandria, and Athens.
In all these cities, he studied extensively.
While traveling to Athens by sea, Saint Gregory’s ship was hit by a storm. Afraid, Gregory went to his knees and prayed to God for safety. He promised that he would dedicate the rest of his life to him if he survived that ordeal.
Dedication and Devotion
He arrived in Athens safely. While there, he became friends with a fellow student and Saint, Saint Basil of Caesarea. He also met Flavius Claudius Julianus who would go on to become Emperor Julian.
In Athens, Saint Gregory not only took interest in theology but also writings that concern rhetoricians like Himerius and Proaeresius.
It is also debated that Saint Gregory might have been baptized in Athens.
Saint Gregory traveled back to Nazianzus circa 361. Back in Nazianzus, he was appointed a minister upon his father’s wish. It is said that Saint Gregory was skeptical but in a bid to assist his father who was bishop, and the people, he agreed.
Saint Gregory was said to have traveled to Annesi for the preparation of this new authority. There, he learned about asceticism and spent his time praying and meditating.
The next year, Saint Gregory returned to take up the seat. While in power, he was put in the middle of a clash between local Christian communities. His father had been accused of heresy.
Saint Gregory was instrumental in the settling of the theological differences. It was at this time that Gregory’s acquaintance, Emperor Julius, had proclaimed war on Christianity.
This caused Gregory to pen letters that he called Invectives Against Julian between the years 362 and 363. Seeing his rebel, Emperor Julian began to actively seek to persecute Gregory.
Before he could act on his threats, the Emperor passed away.
In the years to come, Saint Gregory invested his time and energy in not only preaching the gospel but also fighting the Arian heresy.
In 370, Saint Gregory was appointed Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia. 2 years later, he was made Bishop of Sasima by Saint Basil.
Some parts of history claim that Saint Gregory accepted this bishopric once again due to the insistence of his father. Due to this behavior, Saint Gregory might have been uninterested in his diocese.
Towards the end of 372, Saint Gregory got his wish and traveled back down to Nazianzus to help his father with his diocese. After his father died, he donated his properties to the needy.
Around 379, Saint Gregory was sent to Constantinople to start a campaign towards making the Nicene theory popular. There, his cousin Theodosia provides him with the residence.
The residence was made a church named Anastasia. From this little space, Saint Gregory touched a lot of lives and converted many.
Anastasia grew in size and popularity. This caused Saint Gregory’s enemies to get agitated. On the Easter vigil of the year 379 A.D., Arians attacked the church. This was a plan helped by Gregory’s close alliance, Maximus the Cynic.
The attack left Saint Gregory injured and some ministers killed. Afraid, Gregory fled his seat, which was then taken over by Maximus.
Bewildered by the betrayal, Saint Gregory resigned office. This led to a chain of events that left Gregory criticized and Maximus impeached.
Around 380, Saint Gregory was once again made Bishop.
Not only was he a devout Christian, but Saint Gregory also made huge contributions to theology through his books. His books, letters, epitaphs, and poems are all recognized as a big part of theology.
Death and Canonization
Although his life was marred by challenges and tough decisions, Saint Gregory was a highly respected man. He was instrumental in the fight for religion and the health of the Catholic Church.
Saint Gregory retired to Arianzus for six years. He spent his time in solitude writing about his spiritual journey and the sickness that ailed him.
While the exact date of his death is unknown, it is guessed that Saint Gregory died on the 25th of January, 390 A.D.
He is celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church on the 2nd of January.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Gregory Nazianzus
- Did you know that Saint Gregory is remembered as the “Trinitarian Theologian”?
- Did you know that Saint Gregory was initially bullied into being registered by his Father? He was forced to be a minister to take up solitude.
- Did you know that Saint Gregory refused to be called a bishop while serving for his dying father in Nazianzus?
- Did you know that after Saint Basil died, Saint Gregory wrote a series of condolence letters in his memories? The letters survived until today.
- Did you know that Saint Gregory not only supported the Nicene creed but also cataphatic theology, and Pneumatology?
Prayer to St. Gregory Nazianzus
O All-Transcendent God,(and what other name could describe you?),what words can hymn Your praises?No word does You justice.What mind can probe Your secret?No mind can encompass You.You are alone beyond the power of speech,yet all that we speak stems from You.You are alone beyond the power of thought,yet all that we can conceive springs from You.All things proclaim You,those endowed with reason and those bereft of it.All the expectation and pain of the world coalesce in You.All things utter a prayer to Youa silent hymn composed by You.You sustain everything that exists,and all things move together to Your orders.You are the goal of all that exists.You are one and You are all,yet You are none of the things that exist,neither a part nor the whole.You can avail Yourself of any name;how shall I call You,the only unnameable?All-transcendent God!