Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 21, On Athanasius of Alexandria (CPG 3010.21; BHG 186), 22
On the context of this passage, see E01235
22. Ταύτης ἀποτέλεσμα τῆς δυναστείας ἡ πρότερον μὲν τὴν τῆς ἁγίας καὶ καλλιπαρθένου Θέκλης Σελεύκειαν, μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο τὴν μεγαλόπολιν ταύτην καταλαβοῦσα σύνοδος ἃς ἐπὶ τοῖς καλλίστοις τέως γνωριζομένας, ἐπὶ τοῖς αἰσχίστοις ὀνομαστὰς πεποίηκεν (…).
‘22. The result of this tyranny was the council which sat first at Seleukeia, the city of the holy and noble virgin Thekla, and afterwards at this great city [Constantinople], and rendered these cities, which were once known for the noblest of things, infamous for the greatest of disgraces.’
Text: Mossay 1980
Translation: E. Rizos
Saint NameThekla, follower of Apostle Paul : S00092
Saint Name in SourceΘέκλα
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Sermons/Homilies
Evidence not before379
Evidence not after381
Activity not before379
Activity not after381
Place of Evidence - RegionConstantinople and region
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcConstantinople
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Constantinople
Major author/Major anonymous workGregory of Nazianzus
Cult activities - PlacesPlace of martyrdom of a saint
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsSaint as patron - of a community
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - bishops
SourceGregory was born in c. 330 to a wealthy Christian family in Cappadocia. He was educated at Nazianzos, Kaisareia/Caesarea, Athens, and Alexandria, and in 361 he returned to Nazianzos where he was ordained priest by his father, Gregory the Elder, who was bishop of Nazianzos. He was ordained bishop of Sasima in Cappadocia by Basil of Caesarea in 372, but stayed in Nazianzos, administering the local community after the death of his father. After retreating as a monk in Isauria for some years, he moved to Constantinople in 379, in order to lead the struggle for the return of the city to Nicene Orthodoxy. Two years later, the Arians were ousted by the emperor Theodosius I, and Gregory became bishop of Constantinople. In 381, he convened the Council of Constantinople, at the end of which he resigned his throne and retired to Cappadocia where he died in 390.
Oration 21 belongs to Gregory’s Constantinopolitan period, and was probably composed and delived in 379 or 380 for a memorial held on the anniversary of Athanasius' death (2 May 373). On the manuscript tradition of this oration, see Mossay and Lafontaine 1980, 103-109 and:
DiscussionThe passage refers to the Arian council convened at Seleukeia/Seleucia of Isauria in 359 by the emperor Constantius II. Gregory refers to the city as being that 'of the holy and noble virgin Thekla' whose shrine stood in its environs. Gregory himself had spent several years as monk in the vicinity of the shrine, before coming to Constantinople in 379. This is an early instance of a city being closely associated with a particular saint.
BibliographyText and French translation:
Mossay, J., and Lafontaine, G., Grégoire de Nazianze, Discours 20-23 (Sources chrétiennes 270; Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1980), 86-193.
Schaff, P., and Wace, H. (eds.), A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series. Vol. 7 (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1894), 269-280.
Bernardi, J., La prédication des pères Cappadociens (Université de Paris, Sorbonne, 1968).
Daley, B.E., Gregory of Nazianzus (The Early Church Fathers; London: Routledge, 2006).
McGuckin, J.A., St Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2001).
Gwynn, D.M., Athanasius of Alexandria: Bishop, Theologian, Ascetic, Father (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).