the elder, was bishop of Nazianzus in Cappadocia for about forty-five years, A. D. 329-374, and father of the celebrated Gregory Nazianzen.
He was a person of rank, and he held the highest magistracies in Nazianzus without increasing his fortune.
In religion, he was originally a hypsistarian, a sect who derived their name from their acknowledgment of one supreme God (ὕψιστος
), and whose religion seems, from what little is known of it, to have been a sort of compound of Judaism and Magianism with other elements.
He was converted to Christianity by the efforts and prayers of his wife Nonna, aided by a miraculous dream, and by the teaching of certain bishops, who passed through Nazianzus, on their way to the council of Nicaea, A. D. 325. His baptism was marked by omens, which were soon fulfilled in his elevation to the see of Nazianzus, about A. D. 329.
He governed well, and resisted Arianism. His eldest son, Gregory, was born after he became bishop. In 360 he was entrapped by the Arians, through his desire for peace, into the signature of the confession of Ariminum, an act which caused the orthodox monks of Nazianzus to form a violent party against him.
The schism was healed by the aid of his son Gregory, and the old bishop made a renewed public confession of his orthodoxy, which satisfied his opponents, 363.
In the year 370 he, with his son, used every effort to secure the elevation of Basil to the bishopric of Caesareia; indeed, the intemperate zeal of the two Gregories seems to have embittered the Arians against Basil. All the other events of his life, of any importance, are related in the next article. (Greg. Nazianz. Orat.