By Sarah Levesque (Rated G)
Gregory of Nazianzus (also called Gregory Nazianzen) was born around 330 AD in Cappadocia, now modern Turkey. Gregory was given a classical education in the cities of Caesarea, Alexandria, and Athens. Among his schoolmates were St. Basil the Great and future Roman emperor Julian the Apostate. After his early studies were completed, Gregory entered Basil’s monastic community, where the two worked together to edit an anthology of the works of the theologian Origen (c.185-c.254).
Gregory was ordained a priest in 362 and, after some more studying, spent much of his next years helping Basil fight the Arian heresy which denied the divinity of Christ. After Basil’s death, Gregory became one of the leaders of Byzantine Orthodoxy, and we still have copies of many of the sermons he preached. At the insistence of the Emperor Theodosius, Gregory eventually took the seat of the Bishop of Constantinople, but he was challenged on technical grounds and withdrew from the area. Despite Gregory’s withdrawal, most of his teachings were formalized during the First Council of Constantinople (the second ecumenical council, held in 381), which clarified the teachings on the Trinity with the Nicean Creed, as well as clarifying the role of bishops. Gregory wrote many letters and poems after the council closed, and eventually died in 389. Gregory’s sermons and writings inspired many important theologians after him, including John Chrysostom, Gregory the Great, and Biblical scholar and translator Jerome. Gregory of Nazianzus is revered as a saint in the East and West, and as a Doctor of the Catholic Church.
May we, like St. Gregory of Nazianzus, be ardent in our proclamation of the truths of our faith.