January 25, 2016

Synaxarion of Saint Gregory the Theologian

On the twenty-fifth of this month [January], we commemorate our Holy Father Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople.


For the Orthodox to know God as essence,
Was given to the Christians as a gift from Gregory.
On the twenty-fifth Gregory who spoke of divine things died.

The Great Gregory the Theologian flourished during the reigns of Emperors Valens (364-378) and Theodosius the Great (379-395), and was from Cappadocia Secunda. His parents, Gregory and Nonna, were noble and just, and at one time revered the idols out of ignorance. After giving birth to the Great Gregory, they also were reborn by water and the Spirit, namely through Baptism, and his father became the Bishop of Nazianzus.

Having attained a mature age, the divine Gregory acquired a well-rounded education like no other, concerning all matters of external and internal philosophy, and he became an interpreter and teacher of his own life. He refers to this in his encomiastic and funerary orations he wrote to Basil the Great and Gregory his father, as well as his brother Caesarius and his sister Gorgonia. Thus whoever wrote about this Theologian, they did not begin with the words of another, but rather from his own words.

It is necessary to only say one thing here regarding this great Father, that the Great Gregory was an inspired and living pillar, who was comprised of all the virtues. He was so thoroughly victorious by the brilliance of his life, his highly esteemed reputation by his actions and his elevation to such a high point of theoria, that he prevailed over all by his wisdom, through both words and doctrines. Wherefore he attained in such an exalted manner to be called "Theologian".1

In his physical appearance, he was average in height, slightly pale, and graceful. He had a snubbed and flat nose, even eyebrows, and was seen as pleasant and civilized. His right eye was withered more than his left, with the mark of a wound appearing on the edge of one eye.2 He had a shaggy and full beard, though not long. His head was bald with white hairs, and the edge of his beard was black and white.

His Synaxis is celebrated in the most holy Great Church, and in the martyric Temple of Saint Anastasia in the place called Domninus, as well as the Church of the Holy Great Apostles, where his relics were treasured by the Christ-loving Emperor Constantine Porphyrogennetos (913-959), having brought it from Nazianzus.


1. St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite writes: "To separate the Theologian from the other theologians, he is called the 'Trinitarian Theologian', because in just about all of his orations he refers to the Holy Trinity and their one essence and nature."

2. Saint Gregory in a poem on his own affairs recounts a boyhood incident which he called "a stupid mistake which caused me great agony." As a young body, he foolishly toyed with a twig. Unwittingly, he drove the twig, as a thorn, into his right eye. It was bloodied, and his vision impaired. Until his death a scar could be discerned upon his right eye, though the ball of the eye itself was healed. He makes mention of this healing in the same poem, saying, "I could not use my hands to offer up the sacrifice of the Spirit, until my tears had healed the wound. For it is wrong to let anything unpurified touch what is holy, or to confront the sun with impaired vision." St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite informs us that this mark on his right eye can still be seen on his skull, which is treasured in Vatopaidi Monastery on Mount Athos.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
The shepherd's pipe of thy theology conquered the philosophers' trumpets; for since thou didst search out the depths of the Spirit, beauty of speech was added to thee. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls may be saved, O Father Gregory.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
With thy theologian's speech thou didst dispel the philosopher's cobwebs, O glorious Gregory; and thou dost adorn the robe of Orthodoxy woven for the Church from on high. Wearing this, she cries out with us thy children: Rejoice, O Father, most excellent mind of theology.