Above: Asia Minor in 395 C.E.
Image in the Public Domain
SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE ELDER (CIRCA 276-374)
Roman Catholic Bishop of Nazianzus
His feast transferred from January 2
SAINT NONNA (DIED 374)
Her feast transferred from August 5
SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE YOUNGER (CIRCA 329-389)
Roman Catholic Bishop of Nazianzus then Patriarch of Constantinople
His feast transferred from January 25
SAINT CAESARIUS OF NAZIANZUS (329-369)
His feast transferred from February 25
SAINT GORGONIA OF NAZIANZUS (DIED CIRCA 372)
Her feast transferred from December 9
A family, when it is at its best, nurtures deep and healthy faith. The family of Saints Gregory of Nazianzus the Elder and Nonna provides an excellent example of this.
St. Gregory of Nazianzus the Elder served as Bishop of Nazianzus for forty-five years. Born in Nazianzus, Cappodocia, in modern-day Turkey, he was an imperial official in his home city. His wife, St. Nonna, converted him to Christianity. He became bishop in 328. He and St. Nonna had three children: St. Gergory of Nazianzus (the Younger), St. Caesarius of Nazianzus, and St. Gorgonia of Nazianzus.
St. Gregory of Nazianzus (the Younger), born in Nazianzus, studied at Caesasria in Cappodocia and at Athens. He was a hermit for two years, beginning about age 30, then returned to Nazianzus to help his aging father, who ordained him priest in 362 and made him Bishop Coadjutor in 372. St. Gregory the Elder lapsed temporarily into Arianism, but St. Gregory the Younger brought him back to orthodoxy with regard to Christology. St. Gregory the Elder died in 374, at which point St. Gregory the Younger became Bishop of Nazianzus until 375, when he suffered a breakdown. He recovered by 379, when he became Patriarch of Constantinople. He restored that see to orthodoxy after a reign of Arianism. The manner of St. Gregory the Younger‘s appointment did not inspire universal acceptance, so he resigned in 381, in hopes of restoring peace. He died at Nazianzus on January 25, 389.
St. Caesarius of Nazianzus, an imperial physician, studied at Alexandria, Egypt. Attracted to power like an insect to light, he served as physician to a succession of Roman Emperors, including Julian the Apostate (reigned 355-363). Valens (reigned 364-378) appointed him to an imperial position in Bithynia, whereby the saint was responsible for collecting taxes. There was an earthquake at Nicea on October 11, 368. St. Caesarius survived it with a desire to dedicate the rest of his life to God. So St. Caesarius heeded the plea of his brother, St. Gregory the Younger, to enter religious life. St. Caesarius was baptized late in life, as was common at the time. Upon his death, vultures descended upon his estate, but that which remained went to help the poor.
St. Gorgonia of Nazianzus led a holy life. She settled down and married. She also committed many charitable acts, especially for the blind and the poor. Her brother, St. Gregory the Younger, eulogized her as a model Christian wife, “the Paragon of Women,” and “the Diamond of Her Sex.”
William Shakespeare, in Julius Caesar, had Mark Antony eulogize Casear by saying, among other things,
The evil that men do lives after them;
the good is oft interred with their bones.
Such is hardly the case with these five saints, Deo Gratias.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
DECEMBER 8, 2011 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF MARTIN RINCKART, ARCHDEACON OF EILENBURG
THE FEAST OF RICHARD BAXTER, ANGLICAN THEOLOGIAN
you have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses.
Grant that we, encouraged by the example of your servants
Saint Gregory of Nazianzus the Elder,
Saint Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger,
Saint Caesarius of Nazianzus,
Saint Gorgonia of Nazianzus,
may persevere in the course that is set before us and,
at the last, share in your eternal joy with all the saints in light,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.
–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59
Revised on December 7, 2016