Feast Day : May 9
Gregory was born in Caesaria, Cappadocia (in modern Turkey); some sources place his birth ca. 335. He was influenced by his older brother Basil, who steered him toward the religious life. As a youth Gregory served as rector. He met with Basil’s strong disapproval when he began studying for a career in rhetoric. At some point he married a woman named Theosebia. After his appointment as bishop, Gregory continued to live with her but as a sister; at an unknown time she died. Basil at last prevailed with Gregory and consecrated him bishop of Nyssa, near Caesarea, around 371. But he was disappointed in his younger brother’s administrative ability, which was not as good as his own. Gregory had enemies in Nyssa, and was accused of wasting church property and other crimes. He was arrested, and in 376 a synod of Nyssa deposed him. In 378, the new emperor, Gratian, restored him to his bishopric and issued an edict of tolerance for the Christians. Gregory’s reputation as one of the greatest theologians in the Eastern Church was earned for his opposition to the Arian heresy, and for his orthodoxy. He was named bishop of Sebaste in 380 (against his wishes) and in 381 he was among the orthodox leaders at the Council of Constantinople. He also distinguished himself as an orator. Gregory died sometime after 385 or 386; some sources place his death at 395. Gregory wrote numerous treatises on the Scriptures, and produced works on theology and the ascetic life. His Catechesis defends Catholic teaching. He defended Basil against the heretic Eunomius, and defended the Nicene Creed against Arianism. His De anima et ressurectione (Life and resurrection) is a dialogue between Gregory and his dead sister Macrina about death and resurrection. He is called one of the three “Cappodocian Fathers,” with Basil and St. Gregory of Nazianzus. Among Gregory’s ascetic works on Christian life are On Perfection, On Virginity and On the Meaning of the Christian Name or Profession. Many of his sermons and homilies, and 22 of his letters, are extant.