Gregory Thaumaturgus, St.
GREGORY THAUMATURGUS, ST.
Bishop of Neocaesarea in Pontus, the Wonder-worker; b. Neocaesarea, c. 213; d. there, c. 270.
He was born Theodore into a well-to-do family, but was called Gregory. He studied rhetoric, Latin, and law. Then, with his brother Athenodorus, he spent five years (probably 233–238) as a disciple of origen at Caesarea in Palestine. On returning home the brothers were consecrated bishops by Phaedimus of Amasea; however, the bishopric of Athenodorus is unknown. During the Decian persecution Gregory retired into the mountains with a large part of his flock, and after peace was restored instituted feasts in honor of the martyrs. With his brother, he assisted at the first Synod of Antioch (c. 264), which condemned paul of samosata; but he did not assist at the second synod, and died probably under Aurelian (270–275).
The cult rendered him by SS. Basil and Gregory of Nyssa as well as the legends that surround his name testify to his successful apostolic work. Five legendary lives (in Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Armenian) narrate the miracles that merit him the title of thaumaturgus (miracle worker). Only the Vita by Gregory of Nyssa, whose grandmother was a convert of his, seems trustworthy; but information is supplied on him also by St. Basil in his De Spiritu Sancto, Eusebius (Hist. eccl. 7.14), and Gregory himself in his Panegyric for Origen, a farewell address he preached on separating from the master at the end of his studies. It provides a résumé of Origen's teaching and describes his attitude toward pagan philosophy, the Christian "philosophy" that he taught, and the students' admiration for the master. Origen responded with a letter. The Exposition of Faith preserved by Gregory of Nyssa in his biography is a brief Trinitarian Creed. Gregory's Canonical Epistle answers questions of ecclesiastical discipline raised after the invasion of Pontus by the Goths and the Borades between 254 and 258, and includes decisions regarding violated women and Christians guilty of pillage and apostasy. Canon 11 enumerating different types of penitents is not authentic. His Metaphrasis of Ecclesiastes is an adaptation of the Septuagint text in classical Greek; and his To Theopompus, On the Passible and Impassible in God is an apologetic dialogue for pagans, giving an explanation of Christ's Passion in view of Hellenistic dogma on the divine impassibility, which was exaggerated to a conception of an "indolent" God.
Other works preserved under his name are not authentic: the Exposition of Faith is by Apollinaris of Laodicea; and the 12 Chapters On the Faith is perhaps of Apollinarist origin. Gregory is also credited falsely with 11 Homilies in several languages and a Dialogue with Aelian (Basil, Epist. 210). Also doubtfully authentic are: The Treatise on the Soul for Tatian ; the Letter to Evagrius (or Philagrius) in Greek and Syriac, which is disputed; and the letters mentioned by St. Jerome (De vir. ill. 65; Epist. 33.4).
Feast: Nov. 17.
Bibliography: Opera, Patrologia Graeca, ed. j. p. migne, 161 v. (Paris 1857–66) 10:963–1232; De passibili et impassibili in Deo, j. b. pitra, Analecta sacra spicilegio Solesmensi parata, 8 v. (Paris 1876–91) 4:103–120, 363–376; Address to Origen, tr. w. metcalfe (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; London 1920). gregory of nyssa, Vita, Patrologia Graeca, 46:893–958. h. crouzel, Sciences Ecclésiastiques 16 (1964) 59–91, panegyric. L'Homme devant Dieu: Mélanges … Henri de Lubac, 3 v. (Paris 1964) v. 1. b. altaner, Patrology, tr. h. graef from 5th German ed. (New York 1960) 238–239. j. quasten, Patrology, 3 v. (Westminster, Md. 1950–) 2:123–128. w. telfer, Journal of Theological Studies 31 142–155, 354–363; Harvard Theological Review 29 (Cambridge, Mass. 1936) 225–334. a. soloviev, Byzantion 19 (Brussels 1949) 263–279. f. j. dÖlger, Antike und Christentum 6 (1940) 74–75 (Logos theology). m. simonetti, Rendiconti del Instituto lombardo di scienze e léttere 86 (1953) 101–117, ad Philagrium. c. martin, Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 24 (1928) 364–37 (homilies).