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Gregory of Nyssa

(c. 330—395) Doctor of the Church, bishop of Constantinople

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bishop. Born at Caesarea (Cappadocia), the younger brother of Basil, he was given an excellent education at Athens, became a rhetorician, and married. After some disillusionment with his post of professor of rhetoric, he was ordained priest (c.362). It is not certain when he became a monk, whether his wife died or became a nun. In 371 he was chosen as bishop of Nyssa, a remote outpost of Basil's province near Armenia; but Gregory seems to have lacked skill and diplomacy in supporting Basil's cause. Gregory was an intellectual, and his writings against Arianism in ardent defence of Nicea, as well as his ascetical works, such as the Life of Moses and his sermons on the Song of Songs, are his chief title to fame. He took a prominent part in the Council of Constantinople (381) with Gregory of Nazianzus, and later travelled much as a preacher. He is nowadays reckoned as an important link in the transmission of the thought of Origen to later ages and as a spiritual writer of great authority and depth. Feast: 9 March.

AA.SS. Mar II (1668), 4*–10*; works ed. W. Jaeger (1921–60); id., Two Rediscovered Works of Ancient Christian Literature: Gregory of Nyssa and Macarius (1954); J. Daniélou, Platonisme et Théologie Mystique (1944); H. U. von Balthasar, Présence et Pensée (1942); Bibl. SS., vii. 205–10. See also H.S.S.C., iii. 171–6.

Subjects: Religion

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