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St. Gregory Nazianzen

Gregory of Nazianzus, son of Gregory, Bishop of Nazianzus in Cappadocia, and life-long friend of Basil, Bishop of Caesarea, was born at a village near Nazianzus, 325 A.D. He was early taught the truths of Christianity by his mother, and passed into the school of Carterius at Caesarea, who subsequently became the head of the monasteries of Antioch, and teacher of Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople. He took up the priestly office at the earnest request of his father, and for some time was helpful to the aged Bishop.

The times in which Gregory lived were trying times. The orthodox Christians clung to the creed of Nicea, and their champions did valiant battle with the Arians. As an advocate and exponent of evangelical truth, Gregory was summoned to Constantinople in 379, and as Bishop of that See, adorned the high office with gifts and graces as brilliant as they were rare. But he was 33 not the man for such a prominent position at a time so eventful. Hilary, the "Hammer of the Arians," could keep the heretics at bay, and accomplish in the Latin Church what Gregory failed to do in the Greek Church—maintain his position and his cause against all comers. For one thing, the retiring disposition of Gregory made him shrink from the din of conflict, and his high ideals weakened his hopefulness. The result was that he abandoned the position, and retired to Nazianzus in 381. Deprived by death of his life-long friend and brother, Caesarius, he retired from the world, and penned those poems, some of which are among the treasures of the Church catholic.

Gregory is better known as a theologian than as a poet, although his verses exceed in number thirty thousand. They are found in the second volume of the Benedictine Edition of his works, which was published in Paris in 1842. A selection can be seen in Daniel's Thesaurus Hymnologicus, and in the Anthologia Graeca, Carminum Christianorum.

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