Gregory’s older brother Basil (the Great) forced him into becoming a bishop because Basil needed the help; he was waging a fierce battle for the trinitarian Nicene faith against the heretical Emperor Valens, who sought to undercut him by dividing the metropolitan See of Cappodocia. Thus Basil made Gregory his suffragan bishop of Nyssa, ten miles away. Gregory was awful at being a bishop, but he picked up the fight – and when Basil died suddenly at a young age, followed by their older sister Macrina, who taught them everything they knew, he was ready to defend the Trinitarian belief. Valens and the other Arians thought Jesus a lesser person than God the Father, and if they had prevailed, it’s doubtful the Church would have survived. Christ would have been relegated to “prophet” or “great teacher” status, not the reconciling Son and Savior we worship today. (Iconographer unknown)

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