Bishop Gregory the Theologian of Nazianzus/Karballa/Güzelyurt (AD 329-389)

Gregory was the son of Gregory the Elder and Nonna. He grew up on the family’s property in Kar- balla (modern Güzelyurt), a place of peace and refuge for Gregory throughout his life and ministry. Gregory studied for six years in Athens, where he became a friend of Basil the Great, who became a very close ministry colleague throughout his life. In 358, Gregory left Athens and returned to Nazianzus (Karballa, Güzelyurt) to assist his father Gregory the Elder in ministry.

At the age of thirty-three, Gregory joined Basil the Great’s monastery in Pontus. However, when his brother Caesarius died, he returned to Nazianzus to help his father oversee the church there. In 379, Gregory was asked to minister in Constantinople, where he began to serve and preach in a church called “Anastasis,” which means resurrection in Greek. After the unexpected death of bishop Meletius at the Ecumenical Church Council of 381 (#194), Gregory became the new bishop of Constantinople. He presided over the council in the hope of bringing unity to the church. However, surprising everyone, a disappointed Gregory resigned as bishop and returned to Cappadocia, where he withdrew into a life of solitude at Karballa (modern Güzelyurt). He died in January 389 at the age of sixty-nine, and was honored with the title “Theologian.”

Church of Gregory the Theologian of Nazianzus/Karballa/Güzelyurt (AD 385)

The Church of Saint Gregory the Theologian was built in the center of Karballa—the modern town of Güzelyurt, in Cappadocia—around 386. The original church was likely commissioned by emperor Theodosius I and was dedicated to Gregory the Theologian. Although the church was restored in 1835, it was converted into a mosque in 1924 and is today called the “Big Church Mosque.”