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The future saint Gregory was born around 329 in Arianzus near Nazianzus in Cappadocia. His parents were Bishop Gregory of Nazianzus and St. Nonna.

He first studied at home and later in Ceasarea in Cappadocia and Ceasarea in the Palestine and also in Alexandria. Then he was sent to Athens to study rhetoric, poetry, geometry and astronomy as well as the works of Plato and Aristotle. During his studies he met Basil the Great, the future Archbishop of Ceasarea in Cappadocia.

Having completed his studies, St Gregory remained in Athens to teach rhetoric for some time. In 358, when his father was already a bishop, the future saint came back home and at the age of 30 was baptized by his father. After that, St Gregory, inclined towards monastic life, withdrew to the monastery founded by St Basil the Great at his estate in Pontus on the Iris River. During his life in the monastery, Brother Gregory together with Basils studied the works of Origen and made extracts from them known as “Philokalia” or “Loving Kindness”.

In 361, at his father’s insistence, St Gregory returned home and was ordained as presbyter. The beginning of his church work coincided with the rule of Emperor Julian the Apostate who persecuted both the See of Nazianzus and his father. The emperor sent troops to Nazianzus to seize Christian churches there. Bishop Gregory Senior together with his flock organized resistance which prevented the capture of the churches. The work of Presbyter Gregory at that period shows that he went deeply into the diocesan affairs and gradually became a co-bishop of the Church of Nazianzus, at his father’s chair. 

St Gregory actively helped St Basil the Great in his struggle against Arianism. In 371, St Basil the Great asked Presbyter Gregory to become the Horepiscop of Sasima. However, the episcopal ministry proved to be unattractive for Bishop Gregory and he withdrew to a hermitage. At the same time, Bishop Gregory temporarily estranged himself from the friend of his youth, Bishop Basil the Great.
At the request of his old father, Bishop Gregory came back to Nazianzus, his father’s see, to help him manage the diocese until his blissful death. Among those who came for the funeral was Basil the Great who delivered a passionate oration glorifying the services the deceased rendered to the Church. After his father’s death, the saint managed the widowed episcopal see for a while but later withdrew to a monastery again.

Emperor Theodosius, who occupied the Byzantium’s throne in 379, adhered to the Nicene faith and did not support the Arians who were a majority in Constantinople. At the emperor’s suggestion, Bishop Gregory occupied the Archdiocese of Constantinople and restored the true worship of God glorified in the Trinity in the Cathedral Church of St Sophia which belonged to the Arians. For his passionate and sincere homilies, which attracted many listeners, St Gregory was named “the Theologian”.

The Second Ecumenical Council, which took place in 381 in Constantinople on the initiative of Emperor Theodosius and under the chairmanship of Patriarch Meletius of Antioch, approved the ascension of St Gregory to the See of Constantinople. It also approved and supplemented the Nicene Creed, condemned the heretical teachings and settled a number of practical problems concerning the governance of the Church. After Patriarch Meletius’s sudden death, St Gregory chaired the Council but was slandered and voluntarily left the city of his see.

After that he lived in Nazianzus where he ruled the diocese for some time. It was also a fruitful time for his works.

St Gregory died on January 25, 389, in Nazianzus and was buried there. In 950, under Emperor Constantine the Purple-Born, his holy relics were transferred to Constantinople and placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles. When Constantinople was looted by the crusaders in 1204, the relics were brought out to Rome.

After St. Paul’s was built in Rome, a shrine was made in it for the relics of the saint. On November 26, 2004, by the decision of Pope John Paul II, the relics were returned to the Church of Constantinople together with those of John Chrysostom. At present, the relics of Gregory the Theologian are kept in the church of St Gregory in Istanbul.

Gregory’s literary and theological legacy consists of 245 letters, 507 verses and 45 homilies. Researchers note that Gregory was in the first place an orator rather than a writer but his literary works constitute a priceless treasure for the whole Christian world.

The veneration of St Gregory the Theologian by professors, students and staff of the Ss Cyril and Methodius School is prompted by profound respect for the ascetic life of the saint, his humbleness and truly academic and theological profundity of his theological works.

His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, rector of the Ss Cyril and Methodius School, studied the biography and works of St Gregory the Theologian when he made a study for his dissertation under the guidance of Bishop Kallistos (Ware) in Great Britain.

The name of St Gregory the Theologian is given to the Charity which gives financial support to the School. 


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