File(s) not publicly available

E01884: Gregory of Nyssa in his Life of *Gregory the Miracle-Worker (bishop and missionary in Pontus, S00687), of the late 370s or the 380s, reports that the saint refused to be buried in a privately owned tomb. Written in Greek in Asia Minor.

online resource
posted on 01.10.2016, 00:00 by erizos
Gregory of Nyssa, Life of *Gregory the Miracle-Worker (CPG 3184, BHG 715-715b), 95

For the context of this passage, see $E01878

95. Τοῦτον δὲ τὸν τρόπον ἐμπολιτευόμενος τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ καὶ σπουδὴν ἔχων πρὸ τῆς ἐκ τοῦ βίου μεταστάσεως πάντας ἰδεῖν πρὸς τὴν σωτήριον πίστιν ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων μετατεθέντας ἐπειδὴ προέγνω ἑαυτοῦ τὴν μετάστασιν, σπουδῇ πᾶσάν τε τὴν πόλιν καὶ τὴν περιοικίδα διηρευνήσατο μαθεῖν θέλων εἴ τινες εἶεν ὑπολειφθέντες ἔξω τῆς πίστεως. ἐπεὶ οὖν ἔγνω τοὺς παραμεμενηκότας τῇ ἀρχαίᾳ πλάνῃ μὴ πλείους εἶναι τῶν ἑπτακαίδεκα, σκυθρωπὸν μὲν καὶ τοῦτό φησι πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἀποβλέψας τὸ λείπειν τι τῷ τῶν σῳζομένων πληρώματι, πλὴν ἀλλὰ μεγάλης εὐχαριστίας ἄξιον ὅτι τοσούτους καταλείπει τοὺς εἰδωλολάτρας τῷ μετ᾽ αὐτὸν ἐκδεχομένῳ τὴν ἐκκλησίαν ὅσους αὐτὸς Χριστιανοὺς ὑπεδέξατο. ἐπευξάμενος δὲ τοῖς τε πεπιστευκόσιν ἤδη τὴν εἰς τὸ τέλειον αὔξησιν καὶ τὴν ἐπιστροφὴν τοῖς ἀπίστοις οὕτω τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου βίου πρὸς τὸν θεὸν μετανίσταται ἐπισκήψας τοῖς ἐπιτηδείοις μὴ κτήσασθαι τόπον αὐτῷ πρὸς ταφὴν ἰδιάζοντα †εἰ γὰρ ζῶν κύριος κληθῆναι τόπου τινὸς οὐ κατεδέξατο ἀλλὰ παροικῶν ἐν ἀλλοτρίοις τὸν βίον διήγαγεν, οὐδὲ μετὰ θάνατον τῇ παροικίᾳ πάντως ἐπαισχυνθήσεται ἀλλ᾽ „Ἔστω”, φησὶ, „τῷ μετὰ ταῦτα βίῳ διήγημα ὅτι Γρηγόριος οὔτε ζῶν ἐπωνομάσθη τόπῳ τινὶ καὶ μετὰ θάνατον ἀλλοτρίων τάφων ἐγένετο πάροικος πάσης τῆς ἐν τῇ γῇ κτήσεως ἑαυτὸν ἀποστήσας ὡς μηδὲ ἐνταφῆναι ἰδίῳ καταδέξασθαι τόπῳ· μόνην γὰρ αὐτῷ κτῆσιν τιμίαν ἐκείνην εἶναι ἣ πλεονεξίας ἐφ᾽ ἑαυτῆς ἴχνος οὐ δέχεται.”†

‘95. Since he governed the Church in this fashion, and was concerned to see everyone transferred from the idols to the saving faith before his departure from this life, when he foresaw his own departure, he zealously searched throughout the whole city and its surrounding area, wishing to see if any still remained outside the faith. And when he found out that those who had remained in the ancient error were no more than seventeen, he looked up to God and said that it was indeed sad that something should be lacking to the sum of the saved, yet still it was a cause for great thanksgiving that he was leaving as many idolaters to his successor in the Church as he himself had found Christians. He prayed for the growth to perfection of those who had already believed, and for the conversion of unbelievers, and thus departed this human life for God, having ordered his closest associates not to purchase a private tomb for his burial. For, if during his lifetime he had not deigned to be called owner of any place, but had spent his whole life as a visitor at other people’s places, neither would he be ashamed at all to be a guest even after his death, but he said: “Let posterity have the story that, while he lived, Gregory’s name was never ascribed as a title of ownership to any place, and even after death he became a lodger of a foreign grave; for he stayed so much aloof from every kind of earthly possession that he did not accept even to be buried in a place of his own. For him the only precious possession was that which admits of no trace of greed.”’

Text: Heil 1990 (paragraph numbers after Maraval 2014).
Translation: Efthymios Rizos (using Slusser 1998).

History

Evidence ID

E01884

Saint Name

Gregory the Miracle-Worker (Taumatourgos), bishop and missionary in Pontus, ob. c. 270 : S00687

Saint Name in Source

Γρηγόριος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint Literary - Sermons/Homilies

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

379

Evidence not after

395

Activity not before

270

Activity not after

390

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Nyssa

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Attempts to prevent the veneration of one's relics Noted absence of relics

Source

Gregory of Nyssa was born in the late 330s as one of the youngest of a leading Christian family of Cappadocia. His siblings included important figures of church life, namely Basil of Caesarea, the ascetic Makrina the Younger, and Peter of Sebaste. Gregory was trained in philosophy and rhetoric mainly by his brother Basil, who, in 371 or 372 ordained him bishop of the Cappadocian township of Nyssa. In 376, Gregory was deposed from his see, to which he was able to return in 378, and, from then onwards, he was one of the protagonists of church politics in the East Roman Empire. He played an important role during the Council of Constantinople (381) and was very close to the imperial family of Theodosius I. He was sent on missions to Armenia and Arabia in order settle problems in local churches. Gregory died after 394. He left a large literary heritage on philosophical, theological, ascetical, catechetical and homiletic works. Gregory wrote the Life of Gregory the Miracle-Worker in 379 or in the 380s. The text is preserved in 133 manuscripts, on which see: http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/4338/ (accessed 02/02/2017) Heil, Cavarnos, and Lendle 1990, lxxxvii-cxxxiii (G. Heil)

Discussion

This section is peculiarly interesting with regard to the paraphernalia of the cult of Gregory the Miracle-Worker, since it seems to account for the fact that the Church of Neocaesarea had no tomb and very probably no relics of its revered founder to venerate. The material testimonies of Gregory’s activity were the ancient church he had built in Neocaesarea (paragraph 48) and his presumed hand-written notes (see E01879). It seems that the devotion to the founding father of the church of Pontus was widely spread through various legends on miracles, but devoid of a central shrine and the cult of a relic. Given Gregory’s reported resistance to having his name ascribed to any place, one can ask if they ever dedicated churches to him.

Bibliography

Text: Heil, G., Cavarnos, J.P., and Lendle, O. (eds.), Gregorii Nysseni Opera X.1: Gregorii Nysseni Sermones II (Leiden: Brill, 1990), 4-57 (G. Heil). Translations and commentaries: Maraval, P., Grégoire De Nysse, Éloge De Grégoire Le Thaumaturge; Éloge De Basile (Sources Chrétiennes 573; Paris: Cerf, 2014). Slusser, M., St. Gregory Thaumaturgus: Life and Works (Fathers of the Church 98; Washington, DC: CUA Press, 1998), 41-87 Leone, L., Gregorio di Nissa. Vita di Gregorio Taumaturgo (Rome, 1988). Further reading: Abramowski, L., "Das Bekentniss des Gregor Thaumaturgus und das Problem seiner Echtheit," Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 87 (1976), 145-166. Mitchell, S., "The Life and Lives of Gregory Thaumaturgus," in: J.W. Drijvers and J.W. Watt (eds.), Portraits of Spiritual Authority: Religious Power in Early Christianity, Byzantium, and Christian Orient (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World 137; Leiden: Brill, 1999), 99-138. Starowieyski, M., "La plus ancienne description d’une mariophanie par Grégoire de Nysse," in: H.R. Drobner and C. Klock (eds.), Studien zu Gregor von Nyssa und der christlichen Spätantike (Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 12; Leiden: Brill, 1990), 245-253. On Gregory of Nyssa: Dörrie, H., “Gregor III,” in: Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum 12 (1983), 863-895. Maraval, P., "Grégoire, évêque de Nysse," in: Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques 22 (1988): 20–24. Silvas, A.M. Gregory of Nyssa. The Letters: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 83; Leiden: Brill, 2007), 1-57.

Usage metrics

Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

Licence

Exports