Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Gregory, Bishop


[surnamed the Apostle of Armenia, and the Illuminator] This apostolic man was a native of Greater Armenia, and by receiving his education at Cæsarea in Cappadocia, was there instructed in the Christian faith and baptized. He opened his heart to the lessons of eternal life with so great ardour as entirely to banish the love of the world and the concupiscence of the flesh. Having spent some years in the study of the science of salvation, and in the heroic exercise of all virtues, he was touched with a vehement desire of procuring the salvation of his countrymen. This important affair he long recommended to God by his most fervent prayers, and at length returned to Armenia, and there preached the faith of our crucified Redeemer. The zeal and heavenly spirit with which he was animated, and with which he proclaimed the great truths of eternal life, gave an irresistible force to his words; nor were miracles wanting to confirm the holy doctrine which he announced. The people flocked to him in great multitudes to receive the holy sacrament of regeneration, and to be directed in the paths of salvation. The anonymous life of our saint in Surius says, that he suffered much in this arduous employment; but that after some time Tiridates, the king of that country, embraced the faith. We are informed by Eusebius, that Maximin Daia, at that time Cæsar in the East, and a violent persecutor of the church, provoked at the wonderful progress which the faith made in Armenia, invaded that country; but was repulsed with confusion. This was the first war on account of religion mentioned in history.

Saint Gregory was consecrated bishop by Saint Leontius, bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, and continued his labours in propagating the faith over all Armenia, and among many very barbarous nations near the Caspian sea, as far as Mount Caucasus. He was called to bliss before Constantine the Great became master of the East, the Greek Menologies say by martyrdom. An anonymous panegyric of this saint, published among the works of Saint Chrysostom, mentions several discourses full of heavenly wisdom to have been written by him; also an exposition of faith which he gave to the Armenians. The Abbe de Villefroi informs us, that this exposition of faith and twenty-three homilies of this glorious saint are preserved in an Armenian manuscript kept in the king’s library at Paris. See this saint’s life in Surius; the above-mentioned panegyrics; Le Brun sur les Liturgies; Lequien, Oriens Christian; Galanus, Hist. Armen. Narrat. de rebus Armen. by Combefis; and Moses Chorenensis, in his History of Armenia. This history was published at London in quarto in 1736, by William and by George Whiston, who maintain that the author lived in the fifth age; but they are certainly mistaken, for the work must be more modern. As to the life of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, attributed by some to Saint Chrysostom, it is apocryphal. See Stilting in vita Saint Chrysostom.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Gregory, Bishop”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 29 September 2013. Web. 27 September 2020. <>