Saint Gregory Nazianzus
          the Theologian

A fourth century luminary of faith
and a champion of Christian orthodoxy.


Soorp Krikor

A.D. 329-391

A defender of orthodoxy, St. Gregory Nazianzus is a fourth century luminary of faith. He is one of the four great doctors of the Church along with Saints Basil the Great, John Chrysostom and Athanasius the Great. In addition, he is also remembered as one of the three great Capadocian Fathers, an honor and distinction he shares with St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nyssa.

In the early centuries of Christianity, various schools of thought emerged throughout the Greco-Roman world that both expanded and helped to explain the faith. "Schools" at Antioch, Cappadocia, Alexandria, Jerusalem, among others, attracted a range of intellectuals seeking answers and discovering a liturgical and theological understanding of Christianity. As a result, heretical ideas also surfaced and were debated, sometimes fiercely. Such heresies were often squelched by champions of orthodoxy, such as Gregory of Nazianzus.

Gregory was born to Greek parents near Nazianzus, Cappadocia, Asia Minor in A.D. 329. He was a student of advanced rhetoric and philosophy. His story of faith includes a terrifying voyage to Athens during which his ship encountered a violent storm. Gregory prayed to Christ that if he realized deliverance, he would dedicate his life in service to the Lord.

Preaching the Gospel of Christ in strict orthodox terms, Gregory became famous as a preacher, but soon was known as a mighty warrior against paganism and heresy. Later, he became head of the Church of Nazianzus, after the death of his father who was the Bishop there. He undertook to reorganize the Church which had been torn apart from without and within by the heresy of Arianism and paganism.

The Emperor Theodosius invited Gregory to assume the direction of the Church in Constantinople. He continued to work diligently to unify the Church against heresy until retiring in 382. Gregory delivered his farewell speech - the "Syntacterion," in which he demonstrated the Divinity of the Son - before 150 bishops and the Emperor Theodosius the Great. Also in this speech he requested, and received from all, permission to retire from the See of Constantinople. He returned to Nazianzus, where he lived to the end of his life. He reposed in the Lord in 391, having lived some sixty-two years.

His extant writings, both prose and poems in every type of meter, demonstrate his lofty eloquence and his wondrous breadth of learning. In the beauty of his writings, he is considered to have surpassed the Greek writers of antiquity, and because of his God-inspired theological thought and faithfulness to orthodoxy, he received the surname "Theologian."

St. Gregory lived out his retiring years in prayer, meditation and writing and is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age.


The Armenian Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast of St. Gregory Nazianzus in late January of each year.



Saint Gregory Nazianzus - the Theologian

Detail of icon located on the northeastern wall at
Saints Vartanantz Armenian Church
Chelmsford, Massachusetts

Donated by Dennis Kazanjian in loving memory of
his parents Mr. and Mrs. Sarkis Kazanjian


The Northeastern Wall

The icons located on the northeastern wall of the sanctuary represent the great holy fathers and recognized by the universal Church. These early saints made major contributions to shape Christian theology and the spread of its emerging faith.

The iconography at Saints Vartanantz Armenian Church in Chelmsford, Mass., was the vision of the Very Rev. Fr. Ghevont Samoorian and executed in
collaboration with artist Daniel Varoujan Hejinian in 1985-86.

Available: The hanging vigil lamp - gantegh - at each icon of the northeast wall is available as a gift or memorial for a donation of $150. Symbolically a reminder of the Light of Christ, these brass, gold-plated lamps are lit on various feast days and add their warm glow to the prayerful atmosphere of the sanctuary.

[This page designed and created by Deacon James Magarian]