Saturday, 9 May 2009

St Gregory of Nazianzos

Today is the Feast Day of St Gregory of Nazianzos (c.330-390), Bishop, Confessor and Doctor of the Church. One of the Cappadocian Fathers, we generally remember him as merely the contemporary of the great St Basil, but his own life was interesting enough.

At a time of hopeless persecution, God raised Theodosius to be Emperor of the East; and in the Year of Our Lord 379, the faithful remnant of Constantinople, churchless and shepherdless, called upon St Gregory to be their priest and bishop. After a short period of hesitation, he acquiesced, and established his church in a small house in the Imperial City - at that time, steeped in the Arian heresy (''Suscitans a terra inopem: et de stercore erigens pauperem: Ut collocet eum cum principibus: cum principibus populi sui'' Psalm 112:7-8). This house later became known as ''Anastasia,'' the scene of the resurrection of the Faith.

In AD 380, Theodosius was himself received into the Church through the Sacrament of Baptism and restored the great churches of Constantinople to the homoousian faithful (those faithful to the Trinitarian doctrine of the Nicene Creed).

According to Luigi Gambero, author of the invaluable book ''Mary and the Fathers of the Church,'' St Gregory of Nazianzos was the first author to propound the Marian title Theotókos (''God-bearer,'' or as we would generally say, ''Mother of God'') as a criterion of orthodoxy. The Byzantine Church, who call him the ''Theologian'' (on account of his great learning and piety), honour St Gregory on 25th January, and again on 30th January with St Basil the Great and St John Chrysostom. Apparently, he is the Patron Saint of those who do not want to be Bishops!

St Gregory of Nazianzos, pray for us.

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