3. Of ALEXANDRIA. The Arian prelates who formed the council of Antioch, A. D. 341, appointed Gregory to the patriarchal see of Alexandria, which they regarded as vacant, though the orthodox patriarch, Athanasius, was in actual possession at the time. They had previously offered the see to Eusebius of Emesa, but he declined accepting it.
The history of Gregory previous to this appointment is obscure.
He is said to have been a Cappadocian; and some identify him with the person whom Gregory Nazianzen describes as a namesake and countryman of his own, who, after receiving kindness from Athanasius at Alexandria. had joined in spreading the charge against him of murdering Arsenius: it is not unlikely that this Gregory was the person appointed bishop, though Bollandus and Tillemont argue against their identity. His establishment at Alexandria was effected by military force, but Socrates, and Theophanes, who follows him, are probably wrong in making Syrianus commander of that force: he was the agent in establishing Gregory's successor, George of Cappadocia [GEORGIUS, No. 7.] Athanasius escaped with considerable difficulty, being surprised in the church during divine service.
Very contradictory accounts are given of the conduct and fate of Gregory. If we may trust the statements of Athanasius, which have been collected by Tillemont, he was a violent persecutor, sharing in the outrages offered to the solitaries, virgins, and ecclesiastics of the Trinitarian party, and sitting on the tribunal by the side of the magistrates by whom the persecution was carried on.
That considerable harshness was employed against the orthodox is clear, after making all reasonable deduction from the statements of Athanasius, whose position as a party in the quarrel renders his evidence less trustworthy. The Arians had now the upper hand, and evidently abused their predominance; though it may be judged from an expression of Athanasius (Encyc. ad Episcop. Epistola,
100.3), and from the fact that the orthodox party burnt the church of Dionysius at Alexandria, that their opponents were sufficiently violent.
The close of Gregory's episcopate is involved, both as to its time and manner, in some doubt.
He was still in possession of the see at the time of the council of Sardica, by which he was declared to be not only no bishop, but no Christian. A. D. 347; but according to Athanasius, he died before the return of that prelate from his second exile, A. D. 349.
He held the patriarchate, according to this account, about eight years.
Socrates and Sozomen agree in stating that he was deposed by the Arian party, apparently about A. D. 354, because he had become unpopular through the burning of the church of Dionysius, and other calamities caused by his appointment, and because he was not strenuous enough in support of his party.
The account of Theodoret, which is followed by Theophanes, appears to have originated in some confusion of Gregory with his successor. (Athanasius, Encyc. ad Episcop. Epistola; Histor. Arian. ad Monachos,
100.11-18, 54, 75; Socrat. H. E.
2.10, 11, 14; Sozom. H. E.
3.5, 6, 7; Theodoret. H. E.
2.4, 12; Phot. Bibl. Codd.
257, 258; Philostorg. H. E.
2.18; Theophanes, Chronog.
vol. i. p. 54, 56, ed. Bonn ; Tillemont, Mémoires,