On the last day of autumn, the Churches following the Julian calendar honor the memory of St. Gregory the Wonderworker (213–270). The saint was the bishop of Neocaesarea. Nowadays it is a small city of Niksar in the central part of the Black Sea region of the Asia Minor. In ancient times, Neocaesarea was a significant city, an important political and religious center of those lands.
Saint Gregory was a hero of the faith, a role model for the great Fathers of the Church. Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and Gregory of Nyssa, and others, considered Gregory their spiritual father. Without them, the formation of the great Orthodox tradition of life and thought in the form in which it has reached us would have been unthinkable. Among the saints, Gregory was truly great.
The ancient Church did not look for miracles, however, Gregory, for the power of the signs he performed through the gift of grace, was called a miracle worker. With the name of the “Wonderworker” Gregory went down in history. This rare addition to the name even for saints, a gift given to people, is mentioned by the Apostle Paul as a special rank in the Church: “God has appointed others in the Church, firstly, apostles, secondly, prophets, thirdly, teachers; further, I will give miraculous powers to others, I have appointed miracle workers (1 Cor. 12:28-29). Due to the mysterious spiritual succession, Saint Niсolas of Myra was subsequently called the “Wonderworker” as well.
Obviously, the name “Wonderworker” in relation to Gregory in the mouths of his contemporaries was not just praise. For the Fathers of the Church, it became a confession. For it testified that two centuries after the Ascension of the Lord Jesus, God visited His People again. The God of the Bible is the source of signs and wonders. God is the one who takes you by surprise.
In addition to working miracles, Gregory became famous as a shepherd, missionary, evangelist, theologian, and philosopher, and even compiler of canons. They became part of the Orthodox Book of Rules. Their significance in the structure of the Orthodox Church is immutable to this day.
In addition to working miracles, Gregory became famous as a shepherd, missionary, evangelist, theologian, and philosopher, and even a compiler of canonical norms. They became part of the Orthodox Book of Rules. Their significance in the structure of the Orthodox Church is immutable to this day.
The father of Gregory the Theologian, Bishop of Nazianz Gregory the Elder (276–374), was named in honor of the holy bishop. In the Orthodox liturgical calendar, he is also venerated as a saint. The brother of Basil the Great (330–379), Gregory of Nyssa (335–394), dedicated to him a Sermon.
This interesting text preserves a lot of information about the life of the saint. Gregory was born in 213 in Neocaesarea, into a pagan family, and was named Theodore, that is, “gift of the gods.” At the age of 14 he was orphaned. The saint's teacher in faith was the famous Origen (185–253). He was baptized consciously when he was about twenty years old. The very name “Gregory” means “awake”, “vigilant”, for “waiting for the Second Coming of Christ”. Like the name "Anastasia", which means "resurrection", Gregory is a typically Christian name. It is a “dogma name,” because it expresses one of the beliefs by which Christians of the first centuries lived.
He wandered a lot in search of wisdom and faith, then returned to his hometown, where he served as bishop from 238 until his righteous death around 275. When Gregory came to Neocaesarea, the city was completely pagan: there were 17 Christians in Neocaesarea when he came, there were 17 idolaters, when he departed to the Lord - 17.
It turns out that Gregory’s greatest miracle was the preaching of the Gospel, the appeal to the life-giving Faith of Christ of a huge number of people by example and preaching.
Gregory was a confessor of the faith. He survived the severe persecution of Decius (249–251), when many Christians fell away from the faith. Gregory endured torture, did not renounce his faith, and remained alive. The early Church knew almost exclusively the holiness of martyrs. After all, almost all the Apostles were martyrs.
It is important that it was Gregory of Neocaesarea who became the first saint bishop in history who was not a martyr. Moreover, his veneration among the saints was already begun by his contemporaries. It should be remembered that Gregory was once, in ancient times, perhaps the most revered Eastern Orthodox saint. It is strange and sad that he is now an almost forgotten saint.