Gregory of Nazianzus had greatness thrust upon him and he did not always cope very well. His father was a bishop, so great things were expected of him. He proved to be a brilliant student at Alexandria and then Athens, where he met Basil (later Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia). But Gregory was intense and sensitive, with a love of poetry, art and culture, he was also however a gifted and brilliant preacher. After Athens, Gregory sought a life of devotion and philosophy in the new monastic style, the simple life of a monk is all he longed for with the leisure to contemplate eternal truths.
Under family pressure, Gregory reluctantly accepted ordination as a presbyter. By this time his friend Basil was Bishop of Caesarea and deeply entangled in the theological arguments regarding Christ's divinity. Basil's opinion did not agree with the emperor's who therefore sought to lesson Basil’s influence by dividing his province. Basil replied by ordaining Gregory as Bishop of Sasima near Nazianzus in 372.
Unable to face the public pressure of the task, Gregory fled, he assisted his father for a while, and then, after his parents were both dead, moved to Seleucia to live the solitary life he craved. But his preaching brilliance kept him in the public eye as a champion of the Nicene theology. In 378 the new emperor, Theodosius, a westerner and sympathetic to the Nicene theology, took control of the whole empire. The Nicene party now pressed Gregory to go to Constantinople to further the Nicene cause. There Gregory delivered a series of brilliant lectures on Nicene theology, and the small Nicene congregation grew. His ability in defending the Nicene doctrine, and brilliant preaching led others to think he could handle political leadership which he could not. With the backing of Theodosius, Gregory was installed as Bishop of Constantinople in 381, and was present at the council there that cemented the Nicene victory.
Gregory wilted under the political pressures of the office, too sensitive a soul to cope with politics he resigned within the year. He retreated to an estate near Nazianzus to find the quiet life for which he longed.
BORN:c.329 in Nazianzus, Cappadocia.
DIED: 389, Nazianzus, Cappadocia