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st.Gregory Thaumaturgus-Bishop of Neocaesarea renowned for his miracles, Father of the Church

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  st.Gregory Thaumaturgus

Feast Day : November 17

 

 

Patronage: against earthquakes; against floods

 

 

Also known as: Gregory Thaumaturgos; Gregory the Wonder-Worker; Gregory of Neocaesarea

 

 

Much of what is known about Gregory Thaumaturgus comes from a Life written by St. Gregory of Nyssa and delivered on the saint’s feast day, November 17, in 380. Gregory of Nyssa obtained much of the information from his grandmother, St. Macrina the Elder, who was schooled in the tradition of Gregory Thaumaturgus. Gregory was born at Neocaesarea, Pontus (also Pontos), now in modern Turkey, to a distinguished pagan family in 213. He was named Theodore (“the gift of God”). His father died when he was about 14. About 233, he and his brother Athenodorus set out for Beirut to study law there. They were accompanied by their sister, who was joining her husband in Caesarea, Palestine. In Caesarea they met Origen, head of a famous catechetical school there, and decided to enter it to pursue the study of theology instead of law. Origen converted them, and they became his disciples. Gregory received his Christian name at his baptism by Origen. Origen encouraged his pupils to study all the great philosophical works, including pagan, but not atheist. The broad teachings created the foundation of Gregory’s religious and philosophical life. The brothers returned to Neocaesarea in 238 or 239. According to Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory spent some time in solitude. He was elected bishop by the 17 Christians of the city (interestingly, by the time of Gregory’s death there were but 17 pagans remaining in Neocaesarea). After his election, Gregory had the first recorded dream or vision of St. John, who appeared in the form of an old man accompanied by the Blessed Virgin Mary. Gregory was told that Mary had requested John to reveal the mystery of truth. The radiance around the figures was so brilliant that Gregory could not look upon them. He heard the voices of other learned men speaking to him about truth. Mary told him to immediately write down the revelation and proclaim it in the church. St. John then dictated a creed of Christian faith pertaining to the eternal existence of the Trinity. Gregory took a great deal of inspiration and courage from this vision. He proved to be a charismatic and eloquent figure, and also gifted with miraculous powers. He became known as Gregory Thaumaturgus (“the wonderworker”). His words, wisdom and miracles won over many converts. He built a church and dispensed advice to many. In 250, during the Decian persecution, Gregory and his flock fled to the desert. Upon their return, they had to deal with plague and attacks by the Goths in 252–254. In 264–265 Gregory participated in the synod of Antioch, Turkey. He argued against Sabellianism and Tritheism. Among Gregory’s important writings are Oratio Panegyrica, an enthusiastic and admiring homage to Origen; Exposition of the Faith, in which he asserts his orthodox views about the Trinity; Epostola Canonica; and a dissertation addressed to Theopompus concerning the passibility and impassibility of God. Gregory died in Neocaesarea in 270 or 275. He is invoked against floods and earthquakes. In 1969 his feast was confined to specific calendars. In his Life of Gregory Thaumaturgus, Gregory of Nyssa gives accounts of some of the saint’s miracles. Some undoubtedly are of a legendary nature, intended to enhance the saint’s reputation. Nonetheless, Gregory did possess remarkable abilities. He healed the sick and vanquished demons. He converted a pagan temple keeper by moving, through the power of faith, a huge stone. When flood waters threatened Neocaesarea, he struck his staff into the river banks; it turned into a tree and checked the flow of flood waters. When a heckler accused him of being under demonic influence, Gregory blew upon him and caused the heckler to become temporarily possessed. He then healed the young man. Gregory’s miracles continued after death. According to Gregory of Nyssa, an earthquake damaged most of the city but left Gregory Thaumaturgus’s church untouched. It is likely that the saint was buried there

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