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November 5, 2018

Synaxarion of Saint Gregory the Confessor, Pope of Alexandria

St. Gregory the Confessor of Alexandria (Feast Day - November 5)


How unrewarded with discourses,
Is he who swiftly runs, as the eye of Orthodoxy?

Because this Saint loved Christ from a young age, he adorned himself with all the virtues. Therefore after the death of the holy Pope of Alexandria, he was ordained by divine Providence as Bishop of Alexandria, from among the Bishops of Alexandria, with the agreement of the pious people. In this way he became an exact teacher of Orthodoxy, as well as of virtuous conduct according to God. The renowned one taught virtue more by his deeds than with words. Hence he was meek, humble, merciful, wise, the father of orphans, the protector of widows, the guide of those in error, the physician of the sick and the consolation of those who grieve. Thus all the people rejoiced and were glad for this Saint.

But the scandal-making devil put a defiled thought in the emperor Leo (the Armenian, who ruled in 813),* to reject the veneration of holy icons.** For this purpose he urged him to bring from Alexandria to Constantinople Saint Gregory bound in irons chains. The renowned one stood before him, and rebuked him before the senators and rulers, calling him a heretic, an unbeliever and impious. Unable to endure the indictment, the tyrant had his flesh lacerated with ox-hide. The Saint gladly endured the beating, and said to those who stood around him: "For the holy icon of my Christ I am ready to have all the members of my body cut off." When the most-lawless emperor heard this, he ordered the Saint to be exiled. The Confessor of Christ therefore went into exile, where he spent three entire years, then he delivered his soul into the hands of God, from Whom he received the crown for his confession.


* It should be noted that in the Patriarchal records of the Church of Alexandria, there is no Pope named Gregory that lived during the reign of Emperor Leo V the Armenian (813-820). Rather, the two Patriarchs at that time were Eustathios (813–817) and Christopher I (817–841). Perhaps there was an error in the name, or he was just merely a Bishop in Alexandria, or some other reason may account for this error. The first Gregory to become Patriarch of Alexandria was in the mid-thirteenth century.

** Theodore the Studite describes the misfortunes that the Church experienced during his reign: “O, it is terrible to hear! The venerable icon of the Savior, which the demons fear, is subjected to reproach and humiliation, not only in the imperial city, but also in all places and cities, the altars are destroyed, the shrines are desecrated. All pious lips were silenced because of the fear of death, and a nasty and blasphemous language opened up.”