Commemorated on January 10
Bishop of Nyssa, was a younger brother of Saint Basil the Great (Comm. 1
January). His birth and time of upbringing coincided with the very heights of
the Arian disputes. Having received an excellent education, he was at one time
a teacher of rhetorical eloquence. In the year 372 he was ordained by Saint
Basil the Great as bishop of the city of Nyssa in Cappadocia.
Saint Gregory was an
ardent advocate for Orthodoxy, and together with his brother Saint Basil the
great he fought against the Arian heresy. He suffered persecution by the
Arians, by whom he was falsely accused in the year 376 of improper useage of
church property, and thereby deprived of his cathedra-seat and sent off to
Ancyra. In the following year Saint Gregory was again in absentia deposed by a
church-council of Arian bishops, but he continued to encourage his flock in
Orthodoxy, wandering about from place to place. After the death of the emperor
Valens (378), Saint Gregory was restored to his cathedra-seat and joyously
received by his flock. In the year 379 his brother Saint Basil the Great died.
Only with difficulty did Saint Gregory survive the loss of his brother and
guide. He crafted a funeral oration to him and completed compilation of Saint
Basil's study of the Six Days of Creation, the so-called
"Hexaemeron". This same year Saint Gregory participated in the
Council of Antioch, against heretics that disdained to honour the immaculate
virginity of the Mother of God, and others at the opposite extreme that
worshipped the Mother of God as Herself being God. He was chosen by the Council
for an examination of churches in Arabia and Palestine to assert the Orthodox
teaching about the MostHoly Mother of God. On his return journey Saint Gregory
visited Jerusalem and the Holy Places.
In the year 381 Saint
Gregory was one of the chief figures of the Second OEcumenical Council,
convened at Constantinople against the heresy of Macedonias, who incorrectly
taught concerning the Holy Spirit. At this Council, on the initiative of Saint
Gregory, was completed the Nicean Symbol of Faith (i.e. the Creed).
Together with the
other bishops Saint Gregory affirmed Sainted Gregory the Theologian in the
dignity of Archpastor of Constantinople.
In the year 383 Saint
Gregory of Nyssa was a participant in a Council at Constantinople, where he
spoke a sermon about the Divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the year
386 he was again at Constantinople, and to him was entrusted to speak the
funeral oration in memory of the empress Placilla. And again in 394 Saint
Gregory was present in Constantinople at a Local Council, convened for
resolving church matters in Arabia.
Sainted Gregory of
Nyssa was a fiery defender of Orthodox dogmas and a zealous teacher to his
flock, a kind and compassionate father to his spiritual children, and their
intercessor before the courts. He was distinguished by his magnanimity,
patience and love for peace.
Having reached old
age, Saint Gregory of Nyssa died peacefully, soon after the Constantinople
Council. Together with his great contemporaries – Saints Basil the Great and
Gregory the Theologian, Saint Gregory of Nyssa had a significant influence on
the Church life of his time. His sister, Saint Macrina, wrote to him:
"Thou art reknown both in the cities, and gatherings of people, and
throughout entire districts; Churches do send off and summon thee for
help". Saint Gregory has come down in history as one of the most obvious
and active Christian thinkers of the IV Century. Endowed with a profound
philosophical talent, he perceived philosophy but as a means for a deeper
penetration into the authentic meaning of Divine revelation.
Saint Gregory left
behind him many works of dogmatic character, as well as sermons and discourses.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.