University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E01907: Gregory of Nazianzus addresses his Letter 223, of the 380s, to the ascetic lady Thekla who lives with her children next to a shrine of martyrs. Written in Greek in Arianzos (central Asia Minor).

online resource
posted on 2016-10-10, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Gregory of Nazianzus, Letters (CPG 3032), Letter 223


(1.) Ἀλγεῖς ἀπολειφθέντων ἡμῶν, ὡς εἰκός· ἡμεῖς δὲ πλέον ἐπὶ τῷ χωρισμῷ τῆς σῆς εὐλαβείας. Πλὴν εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ Θεῷ μέχρι σοῦ φθάσαντες, καὶ οὐκ ἐμεμψάμεθα τῷ κόπῳ.  (2.)  Εἴδομεν γάρ σου τὸ στερέωμα τῆς εἰς Χριστὸν πίστεως καὶ τὴν ἐπαινετὴν ἐρημίαν καὶ τὸν φιλόσοφον ἰδιασμόν, ὅτι πάντων χωρισθεῖσα τῶν τοῦ κόσμου τερπνῶν Θεῷ μόνῳ συνέκλεισας ἑαυτὴν καὶ τοῖς ἁγίοις μάρτυσιν, οἷς παροικεῖς, καὶ προσήγαγες τῷ Θεῷ καὶ προσάγεις μετὰ τῶν ἀγαπητῶν σου τέκνων θυσίαν ζῶσαν, εὐάρεστον.

'To the same [Thekla]

Quite naturally, you suffer for our absence, and we even more on our separation from your piety. Yet we give thanks to God for having met you, and we have not deemed the effort wasted. For we have seen the steadfastness of your faith in Christ, and your praiseworthy solitude and ascetic isolation, and that, separated from all the pleasures of the world, you have confined yourself to God alone and to the holy martyrs, at whose dwelling you sojourn. And you have offered, and are still offering together with your dear children, a living and pleasing sacrifice to God.'

Text: Gallay 1964.
Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Arianzos Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Nazianzus

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - unspecified

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Children


Gregory was born in c. 330 to a wealthy Christian family in Cappadocia. He was educated at Nazianzos, Kaisareia/Caesarea, Athens, and Alexandria, and in 361 he returned to Nazianzos where he was ordained priest by his father, Gregory the Elder, who was bishop of Nazianzos. He was ordained bishop of Sasima in Cappadocia by Basil of Caesarea in 372, but stayed in Nazianzos, administering the local community after the death of his father. After retreating as a monk in Isauria for some years, he moved to Constantinople in 379, in order to lead the struggle for the return of the city to Nicene Orthodoxy. Two years later, the Arians were ousted by the emperor Theodosius I, and Gregory became bishop of Constantinople. In 381, he convened the Council of Constantinople, at the end of which he resigned his throne and retired to Cappadocia where he died in 390. His 249 Letters are an important source concerning his life and personality, and the ecclesiastical history of the 360s to 380s. For their manuscript tradition and editions, see: Gallay 1964 and:


This letter is addressed to the ascetic lady Thekla, sister of the presbyter Sakerdos, a close friend of the author. Following a letter of condolence to her on the death of Sakerdos (Letter 222), it seems that Gregory paid a visit to her and wrote this letter after his return home. The lady is described as living a holy life together with her children at a shrine of martyrs. It is possible that this was yet another example of an aristocratic landed family embracing asceticism by turning their estate into a monastic retreat and by constructing a chapel of martyrs on its grounds. Other examples include Gregory himself (E01908), and the family of his friend Basil of Caesarea (E01299). Indeed Gregory addresses a letter to a female landowner named Thekla (57), whom he requests to send him some wine during a year when frost had destroyed the vineyards of Nazianzus. That Thekla is usually thought to be different from the ascetic lady of Letters 222 and 223, because she appears to possess an extensive wine-producing property, presumably inconsistent with an ascetic lifestyle. That, however, is not necessary. As the examples of Gregory himself and of the family of Basil of Caesarea show, it was not unusual to combine an ascetic lifestyle with the possession and management of substantial landed property.


Text, French translation, and commentary: Gallay, P. (1964). Saint Grégoire de Nazianze, Lettres. Texte établi et traduit. Paris: Les Belles lettres. Further reading: Comings, J. B. Aspects of the Liturgical Year in Cappadocia (325-430). Patristic Studies. New York: Peter Lang, 2005, 98. Daley, Brian. Gregory of Nazianzus. London, New York: Routledge, 2006. Hauser-Meury, M.-M. Prosopographie zu den Schriften Gregors von Nazianz. Theophaneia 13. Bonn: Peter Hanstein, 1960, 158-159. McGuckin, John A. St Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography. Chrestwood, New York: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2001. Storin, Bradley K. "The Letter Collection of Gregory of Nazianzus." In Late Antique Letter Collections. A Critical Introduction and Reference Guide, edited by Bradley K. Storin and Edward Watts Cristiana Sogno, 81-101. Oakland: University of California Press, 2017.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager