Gregory Nazianzen , a saint and doctor of the church, born about 328, died about 389. His father Gregory, a convert from heathenism, was on account of his holy life and great zeal made bishop of Nazianzus in Cappadocia, which see he governed 45 years, and died when about 90 years old. He and Nonna, the mother of the saint, are recognized as saints in the calendars of the church. The son was carefully educated in the schools of Caesarea, Alexandria, and Athens, and had for fellow students Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Julian the Apostate. At his return to Nazianzus he was baptized, and lived austerely as a hermit in company with St. Basil. After some time thus spent in study and religious exercises, he was recalled to Nazianzus, was ordained priest, and assisted his father in the government of his diocese. He fled again for a time to the desert, but fearing to incur the displeasure of heaven by shrinking from his work, he returned to Nazianzus, and on Easter Sunday preached his first sermon. He is considered by many as the most eloquent of all the fathers of the church. His addresses are fervid, florid, and fanciful, for Gregory was a poet, and wrote much in verse as well as in prose.
Among his early discourses were two of great severity against the emperor Julian. In 372 he was consecrated by St. Basil bishop of Sasima; but being prevented from occupying that see, he remained to help his father at Nazianzus. In 378 the death of the emperor Valens restored peace to the church, and the pastors everywhere sought to revive in their churches their pristine glory, obscured by 40 years of Arian domination. Some of the prin-cipal sees were in a deplorable condition, and i in Constantinople especially the Christians were without a pastor, or even a place where they might assemble for worship. Gregory was living in retirement at Seleucia, but many of the bishops desired to place him in the episcopal chair of Constantinople. He finally yielded to their joint entreaties and appeared upon his new field of labor. His lowly and penitential exterior made an unfavorable impression upon the citizens of the proud and wealthy capital of the East. The Arians and Apollinarists derided, and even pelted him with stones. Still his great patience and zeal acted favorably upon the people, aided, as we are told, by several miracles. Many were converted from paganism, heresy, and dissolute lives through his eloquence and learning.
Gregory, however, soon became weary of the growing cares of his great see : and although the emperor Theodosius and Pope Damasus and the bishops supported him against his persecutors, especially against an intruded bishop named Maximus, and although even a council called at Constantinople declared him patriarch, he insisted upon resigning all his honors, and retired again to Nazianzus, and withdrew from thence to a solitary abode near Arianzus. Worn out by age and unremitting austerities, he died in his retreat. The Latins honor him on May 9. His ashes were conveyed from Nazianzus to Constantinople, and thence during the crusades to Rome, where they repose under an altar inscribed to his memory in the Vatican church. His works consist chiefly of 55 sermons, 235 letters, and 158 pieces of poetry. Twenty poems are to be found in Tollius, Insignia Itinerarii Italici (4to, Utrecht, 1G9G), called by the editor Carmina Cygnea. Muratori published 228 unedited epigrams of Gregory's in his Anecdota Groeca (Padua, 1709). The principal editions of his works are those of Basel, fob, 1550, with life by Suidas and by Gregory the Presbyter; De Billy, 2 vols., Paris, 1609-11; the Benedictine Dom Maran, Paris, 1788 (only vol. i.; vol. ii., Paris, 1840, edited by the Benedictine Caillau); and vols. xxxv. to xxxviii. of Migne's Patrologie grecque, Paris, 1856-'66 (Greek text with Latin translation). A selection of his works was published by Goldhorn (Leipsic, 1854). See Ullmann's Gregorius von Nazianz (Darmstadt, 1825), and Villemain, Tableau de Veloquence chretienne au quatrieme siecle (Paris, 1846).