October 1, 2015

Saint Gregory the Domestikos of Great Lavra (+ 1405)

St. Gregory the Domestikos (Feast Day - October 1)


Indeed you receive a coin now from above,
O Gregory. As well as the glory of the Lord.

Saint Gregory the Domestikos (Choirmaster) was a contemporary of Saint John the Koukouzelis, and the latter instructed the former in Ecclesiastical Music while they lived in asceticism at the Monastery of Great Lavra at Mount Athos, which is why they would also call him Gregory the Koukouzelis in honor of his instructor. Gregory was known for his technical skill and for the sweetness of his voice. He chanted the vigil services with great reverence and compunction, never sitting down in church.

Patriarch Kallistos (June 20) had established that in the Liturgy of Basil the Great, "All Creation Rejoices in Thee" ("Ἐπὶ σοῖ χαίρει") be sung in place of "It Is Truly Meet" ("Ἄξιόν ἐστι"). His successor, Patriarch Philotheos (Oct. 8), rescinded this, reinstating "It Is Truly Meet" because of its brevity. But then, on the eve of the Theophany, and in the presence of Patriarch Gregory of Alexandria, Gregory the Domestikos sang "All Creation Rejoices in Thee" instead. Immediately after this, the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to him, and, as she had done to John Koukouzelis, placed a gold coin in his hand. She said: "I am very grateful for your singing in my honor." Because of this, it was instituted that all Liturgies of Basil the Great would thereafter include "All Creation Rejoices in Thee".

Having lived a life pleasing to God, Venerable Gregory reposed in peace in the year 1405. Monk Gerasimos Mikragiannanites wrote a service to honor both Gregory Domestikos and John Koukouzelis, who are celebrated together on October 1st. The Monastery of Great Lavra keeps among its treasures both the sacred skull of Saint Gregory as well as the coin given to him by the Theotokos.