The Life of Our Father Among the Saints, Gregory the Theologian


My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,



Saint Gregory the Theologian was born near Nazianzus, a town in Great Cappadocia. His parents, Gregory and Nonna, were of noble ancestry and respected by all; however, the elder Gregory, being the child of a pagan father and a Jewish mother, was not a Christian in his younger years. He belonged to the sect of the Hypsistarii, which combined heathen and Judaic error. The blessed Nonna was the daughter of Christians and was herself an Orthodox Christian from childhood. She was reared in piety and perfectly instructed in the fear of God, which is the beginning of all wisdom. Providence allowed her to be wed to an infidel, so that "the unbelieving husband" might be "sanctified by the" believing "wife" (1 Corinthians Ch. 7) as the Apostle says. Nonna constantly exhorted her husband to accept the true faith, and what is more, fervently prayed for him. Eventually her entreaties secured God's intervention. Although he did not know or wish to learn how to pray, her husband saw himself in a dream chanting the psalms of David, which he had never read before, but had only heard his wife recite. The words he intoned were the following: "I was glad because of them that said unto me: let us go into the house of the Lord" (Psalm 121). As he chanted, sweet compunction filled his heart. He awoke rejoicing and told Nonna everything. She understood that God was calling her husband to His Holy Church, and began with even greater fervor to teach him about the Christian faith and urge him to the path of salvation. It so happened that Leontius, Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, was passing through Nazianzus on his way to Nicaea, where the First Ecumenical Council was about to begin. The blessed Nonna took her husband to Leontius, who baptized him. After his Baptism, Gregory led a God-pleasing life, as befits a true Christian. He also excelled in piety and good works that he later became Bishop of Nazianzus.

Living with such a man in honorable wedlock, Nonna naturally desired to bear him a son. She prayed to the Giver of all blessings, and even before conceiving promised, as once did Hannah, mother of Samuel, to dedicate her child to God. The Lord, Who does "the will of them that fear Him" and hears "their supplications", fulfilled the request of that devout woman, revealing to her in a dream the birth of a son, the child's physical appearance, and his name: Gregory, after his father. Nonna thanked God form the depths of her heart and entrusted the child to providence, offering the fruit of prayer as a gift of the Lord; however, she did not have the babe baptized. In those days many Christians were not baptized as infants; instead, their initiation was deferred until they were thirty years old, the age at which Christ Our Lord was baptized by Saint John the Baptist in the river Jordan. Saint Gregory's Baptism was delayed until he reached that age, in accordance with the tradition. Subsequently Gregory himself, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa and other holy Fathers condemned this practice.

After the holy Gregory's birth, the blessed Nonna bore another son, Caesarius, and a daughter, Gorgonia. She reared the in piety and taught them to read and write. Meanwhile Gregory, wishing to acquaint himself more perfectly with rhetoric, philosophy, and the other branches of secular Hellenic (Greek) learning, sailed first to Caesarea of Palestine (famous at that time as a center of scholarship, and the home of the eminent rhetorician Thespesius), then to Alexandria, where he gathered treasures of wisdom from many teachers and enriched his mind. He went to Athens and there devoted himself to his studies and was the object of astonishment, because of his keen intellect and chaste way of life.

Gregory was raised in accordance with Christian principles, learned to read and write while still very young, and grew in stature and wisdom. Attentive and diligent in his studies (as befited one bearing the name Gregory). The name Gregory is derived from the Greek word for "vigilant." Gregory surpassed in his intellectual achievements all his schoolmates. Youth did not hinder him from understanding subjects usually investigated only by those whose mental powers had reached their zenith.

He was baptized when he had completed his studies. Saint Basil the Great consecrated him bishop of Sasima, and the Emperor Theodosius quickly called him to the vacant Archiepiscopal throne of Constantinople. His works were manifold, the best-known being this theological writings, for which he received the title 'The Theologian'. He is particularly famed for the depth of his Sermons on the Holy Trinity. He also wrote against the heretic Macedonius, who taught wrongly of the Holy Spirit (that the Spirit was a creature of God), and against Apollinarius who taught that Christ did not have a human soul but that His Divinity was in place of His soul. He also wrote against Emperor Julian the Apostate, his sometime schoolmate. In the year 381 A.D., when a quarrel broke out in the Council concerning his election as Archbishop, he withdrew himself, declaring: "Those who deprive us of the (Archiepiscopal) throne cannot deprive us of God." He then left Constantinople and went to Nazianzus, remaining there is retirement, prayer and the writing of instructive books until his death. And, although he was in weak health all his life, he lived to the age of 70. His holy relics were taken to Rome, and his head to the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow. He was, and remains, a great and wonderful light of the Orthodox Church, as much for the meekness and purity of his character as for the unsurpassable depth of his mind. He entered into rest in the Lord in the year 389 A.D. (Source: The Great Collection of The Lives of the Saints and The Prologue from Ochrid)


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" -- Saint John Chrysostomos


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George