Saint Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, was a younger brother of Saint Basil the Great (January 1). His birth and upbringing came at a time when the Arian disputes were at their height. Having received an excellent education, he was at one time a teacher of rhetoric. In the year 372, he was consecrated by Saint Basil the Great as bishop of the city of Nyssa in Cappadocia.
Saint Gregory was an ardent advocate for Orthodoxy, and he fought against the Arian heresy with his brother Saint Basil. Gregory was persecuted by the Arians, by whom he was falsely accused of improper use of church property, and thereby deprived of his See and sent to Ancyra.
In the following year Saint Gregory was again deposed in absentia by a 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 and was joyously received by his flock. His brother Saint Basil the Great died in 379.
Only with difficulty did Saint Gregory survive the loss of his brother and guide. He delivered a funeral oration for him, and completed Saint Basil’s study of the six days of Creation, the Hexaemeron. That same year Saint Gregory participated in the Council of Antioch against heretics who refused to recognize the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God. Others at the opposite extreme, who worshipped the Mother of God as being God Herself, were also denounced by the Council. He visited the churches of Arabia and Palestine, which were infected with the Arian heresy, to assert the Orthodox teaching about the Most Holy Theotokos. 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 Ecumenical Council, convened at Constantinople against the heresy of Macedonius, who incorrectly taught about the Holy Spirit. At this Council, on the initiative of Saint Gregory, the Nicean Symbol of Faith (the Creed) was completed.
Together with the other bishops Saint Gregory affirmed Saint Gregory the Theologian as Archpastor of Constantinople.
In the year 383, Saint Gregory of Nyssa participated in a Council at Constantinople, where he preached a sermon on the divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit. In 386, he was again at Constantinople, and he was asked to speak the funeral oration in memory of the empress Placilla. Again in 394 Saint Gregory was present in Constantinople at a local Council, convened to resolve church matters in Arabia.
Saint Gregory of Nyssa was a fiery defender of Orthodox dogmas and a zealous teacher of 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 of peace.
Having reached old age, Saint Gregory of Nyssa died soon after the Council of Constantinople. 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: “You are renowned both in the cities, and gatherings of people, and throughout entire districts. Churches ask you for help.” Saint Gregory is known in history as one of the most profound Christian thinkers of the fourth century. Endowed with philosophical talent, he saw philosophy as a means for a deeper penetration into the authentic meaning of divine revelation.
Saint Gregory left behind many remarkable works of dogmatic character, as well as sermons and discourses. He has been called “the Father of Fathers.”
Saint Gregory, the younger brother of Basil the Great, illustrious in speech and a zealot for the Orthodox Faith, was born in 331. His brother Basil was encouraged by their elder sister Macrina to prefer the service of God to a secular career (see July 19); Saint Gregory was moved in a similar way by his godly mother Emily, who, when Gregory was still a young man, implored him to attend a service in honor of the holy Forty Martyrs at her retreat at Annesi on the River Iris. Saint Gregory came at his mother’s bidding, but being wearied with the journey, and feeling little zeal, he fell asleep during the service. The Forty Martyrs then appeared to him in a dream, threatening him and reproaching him for his slothfulness. After this he repented and became very diligent in the service of God.
Gregory became bishop in 372, and because of his Orthodoxy he was exiled in 374 by Valens, who was of one mind with the Arians. After the death of Valens in 378, Gregory was recalled to his throne by the Emperor Gratian. He attended the Local Council of Antioch, which sent him to visit the churches of Arabia and Palestine, which had been defiled and ravaged by Arianism. He attended the Second Ecumenical Council, which was assembled in Constantinople in 381. Having lived some sixty years and left behind many remarkable writings, he reposed about the year 395. The acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council call him ‘Father of Fathers.”
Gregory was the brother of Basil the Great. At first he was only a presbyter, since he was married; but when his wife, Blessed Theosevia, reposed, Gregory was chosen and consecrated Bishop of Nyssa. He was distinguished by his great secular learning and spiritual experience. He participated at the Second Ecumenical Council [Constantinople, 381 A.D.]. It is thought that he composed the second half of the Symbol of Faith [the Creed]. He was a great orator, an interpreter of Holy Scripture and a theologian. Because of their defeat, the Arians especially attacked him as their worst enemy, so that during the reign of Emperor Valens–their ally of the same mind–they succeeded in ousting Gregory from the episcopal throne and sent him into exile. This Holy Father spent eight years in exile, patiently enduring all miseries and all humiliations. He finally reposed in old age toward the end of the fourth century, and entered into the Kingdom of God, remaining throughout the ages as a great beacon of the Church on earth.
Apolytikion of Gregory of Nyssa
O God of our Fathers, ever dealing with us according to Thy gentleness: take not Thy mercy from us, but by their entreaties guide our life in peace.
Kontakion of Gregory of Nyssa
Rejoicing with the Angels and taking delight in the Divine Light, Gregory of Nyssa, the vigilant mind, the God inspired hierarch of the Church, and wisdom’s revered hymnographer, intercedeth unceasingly for us all.
Source: oca.org / goarch.org / westserbdio.org