Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, (born c. 330, Arianzus, near Nazianzus, in Cappadocia, Asia Minor [now in Turkey]—died c. 389, Arianzus; Eastern feast day January 25 and 30; Western feast day January 2), 4th-century Church Father whose defense of the doctrine of the Trinity (God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) made him one of the greatest champions of orthodoxy against Arianism.
Gregory’s father, also named Gregory, was converted to the Christian faith from the monotheistic sect known as the Hypsistarii under the influence of his Christian wife. He was soon afterward consecrated bishop of his native city, Nazianzus in 325. Born some years later, the younger Gregory thus grew up in a Christian and clerical family. Nevertheless, he received a classical as well as religious education, studying first at Caesarea, the provincial capital, at least briefly at Alexandria, and finally at Athens (c. ad 351–356). He was a close friend of Basil, his fellow student and later bishop of Caesarea, and in his panegyric at Basil’s death in 379 he gave a vivid picture of student life of the period. Among Gregory’s other contemporaries as a student at Athens was the future Roman emperor Julian, who in his brief two-year reign would attempt to revive paganism. Soon after returning to Cappadocia, Gregory joined the monastic community that Basil had founded at Annesi in Pontus. During this time, in order to preserve the thought of the great Alexandrian theologian Origen, many of whose speculative views were under attack, the two friends collaborated in editing the Philocalia, an anthology of theological and devotional selections from the works of Origen.Read More »