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Gregory of Nazianzus

330-389. Cappadocian Father.* Brought up on the family estate near the town in Cappadocia where his father, also named Gregory, was bishop and whence he derived his title, he was educated at Caesarea where he met Basil* and eventually the two friends, about 350, went on to the University of Athens. Gregory returned home about 358, and after a short career as a teacher of rhetoric he spent some time helping his aged father at Nazianzum and the remainder at Basil's monastic retreat. In 362 against his will his father had him ordained priest. Ten years later he reluctantly agreed with Basil's wish that he be bishop of Sasima, a position he never in fact fulfilled, and a place he never visited, preferring to assist his father at home. After the latter's death in 374 he retired to Seleucia in the province of Isauria.

Gregory was summoned out of his monastic peace to Constantinople to defend the Nicene faith against Arianism.* His ministry at the “Church of the Resurrection” in Constantinople made a significant contribution to the final establishment of the orthodox faith. During the council he was appointed bishop of Constantinople, but characteristically resigned the see when his election was disputed. After the council he went back to Nazianzum, where he took charge of the church, but from 384 he retired to his family estate where he finally died.

Although of unimpressive personal appearance and bearing, Gregory had an outstanding power of oratory which was used to great effect in his ministry at Constantinople. Most worthy of note are the famous five Theological Addresses against the Arians. After dealing with the Eunomians in the first oration and the nature of God in the second, he develops in the third and fourth the doctrine of God the Son. He shows that the orthodox teaching concerning the equality of Father and Son is much more Christian and more logical than the Arian concept of the Godhead. In the fifth oration Gregory treats the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and argues for the consubstantiality of the Spirit with the Father and the Son. Other writings include the Philocalia, a selection from the works of Origen which he compiled with Basil; several writings against Apollinarianism; and 242 letters and poems.

P. Gallay, La Vie de Saint Grégoire de Nazianze (1943); J.H. Newman, Essays and Sketches, vol. III (1948); S. Plagnieux, Saint Grégoire de Nazianze théologien (1952).