Gregorius Neo-casariensis, or Thaumaturgus
Gregorius Neo-Casariensis, Or Thaumaturgus received the latter surname from the miracles ascribed to him. His proper; name was Theodorus. He was born in the 3d century, of rich and noble parents, at Neo-Caesarea, in Pontus. He was educated very carefully in the learning and religion of Paganism by his father, who was a warm zealot; but losing this parent at fourteen years of age, his inclinations led him to Christianity. Having studied the law for some time at Alexandria and Athens, he accompanied his sister to Caesarea, and there came the pupil of Origena, about A.D 234. He continued five years under his tuition, dunling which he learned logic, physics, geometry, astronomy and ethics, and, what was of infinitely greater consequence, the knowledge of the true God and the Christian Scriptures. When Gregory returned to his native country he damned himself to a private and retired life, but Phedius, bishop of Amasea, ordained him bishop of Neo-Caesarea, in which, and the whole. neighborhood, there were only seventeen Christians. Gregory Nyssen, who has written an account of his life, says he was more perfectly instructed in the Christian doctrine by a vision from heaven, ins which he heard and saw the Virgin Mary and St. John discoursing together of the Christian faith! When they disappeared, he wrote down carefully all they spoke, which, as Nyssen says, was preserved in Gregory's own handwriting in the church of Neo-Caesarea in his time. There are other legends of miracles wrought by him, among them the following: On his way to take possession of his unpromising bishopric he was benighted, and obliged, through the inclemency of the weather, to take up his lodging is a heathen temple, the daemon of which bad been very remarkable for his frequent appearances to the priest, and for the oracles which he delivered. Garegory and his companions departed from this place early in the morning, after which the priest performed the usual rites but the daemon answered that "he could appear no more in that place, because of him who had lodged there the preceding night." The pagan priest besought Gregory to bring the daemon back. The saint laid on the altar a piece of paper, on which he had written, "Gregory to Satan-enter." The devils returned and the pagan, astonished, was converted to Christianity. When Gregory arrived at the city a vast crowd of people came together, to whom be preached the gospels and numbers were convicted. As the number of believers increased daily, he formed the design of building a church, which was soon effected, all cheerfully contributing both my labor and money. This was probably the first church ever erected for the sole purpose of Christian worship. After having converted all the Neo-Caesareans except seventeen persons, he died full of faith and the Holy Spirit, rejoicing that he left no more unbelievers in the city than he found Christians at the commencement of his ministry. In the year 264 he attended at the synod at Antioch, where Paul of Samosata made a feigned recantation of his heretical opinions. Gregory died most probably in the following year, certainly between A.D. 265 and 270. The many accounts of miracles ascribed to him do not rest upon the authority of his contemporaries. We are chiefly indebted for an account of them to Gregory of Nyssa, who flourished a hundred years after Thaumaturgus, who wrote a panegyric of him rather than a life, and who evidently recorded every wonder of which he received a report without examination. Lardner, however, says that he will not assert that Gregory worked no miracles. The age of miracles was not entirely concluded, and had there been no foundation in truth, the wonderful stories relating to Gregory would not have been believed. He is commemorated in the Roman Catholic Church on the 17th of November.
The creed of Gregory is very important, as showing us how clearly defined was at this time the faith of the orthodox: Its authenticity has been disputed, but it is received as genuine by Bishop Bull and Dr. Waterland: it is as follows: "There is one God, Father of the living Word, the substantial wisdom and power and eternal express image: perfect Parent of one perfect, Father of the only begotten Son. There is one Lord, One of One, God of God, the express character and image of the Godhead, the effective word, the wisdom that grasps the system of the universe, and the power that made every creature, true Son of the true Father, invisible of invisible, incorruptible of incorruptible, immortal of immortal, and eternal of eternal. And there is one Holy Ghost, haying his subsistence from God, and shining forth by the Son (viz. to mankind), perfect image of the perfect Son, life causal of all living, the holy fountain, essential sanctity, author of all sanctification; in whom God the Father is manifested, who is, above all and in all, and God the Son who is through all; A perfect Trinity undivided, unseparated in glory, eternity, and dominion. There is, therefore, nothing created or servile, in this Trinity nothing adventitious that once was not, and camne in, after; for the Father was never without the Son, nor the Son without the Spirit, but this Trinity abides the same unchangeable and invariable forever." Gregory's works, so far as we know anything of them, are these:
1. A Panegyrical Oration: in praise of Origen, pronounced in 239, still extant, and unquestionably his. Dupin says of it "that it is very eloquent, and that it may bereckoned one of the finest pieces of rhetoric in all antiquity." It is the more admirable, because perhlaps it is the first thing of the kind among Christians.
2. A Paraphrase of the Book of Ecclesiastes, mentioned by Jernome in his catalogue, and quoted by him in his Commentary upon that book, and still extant;
3. Jerome afterwards adds in his catalogue that Gregory wrote several epistles, of which, however, we have now only one remaining, called a Canonical Epistle to an anonymous bishop, written in 258 or 262, consisting, as we now have it, of eleven canons, all allowed to be genuine: except the last, which is doubted of, or plainly rejected, as, no part of the original epistle, but since added to it. The editions of his works are, 1. That of Vossius (Mayence, 1604, 4to, with a Life of Gregory); 2. Opera omnia Gregor. Neocaes. Macarii et Basilii, Gr. et Lat. (Paris, 1622, fol.); 3. Migne's edition, Patrol. Cursus Complet. volume 10: This is the best edition. A life of Gregory has been published by Nic. Mar. Pallavicini (Rome, 1644). His writings are also given in Bib. Max. Patrum, volume 3. See Lardner, Works, 2:608-642; Hook, Ecclesiastical Biography) 5:390; Dupin, Eccl Writers,. cent. 3; Neander, Ch. History 1:716-720; Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. books 6, 7; Cave, Hist. Lit. ann. 254; Fabricius, Bibl. Graeca, 7:249; Boyei Diss. de Greg. Thaumat. (Jena, 1703, 4to); Greg. Nyssenus, Vita Greg. Thaumat. Opp. t. 3, page 536; Mosheim, Ch. Hist. 170.