“Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.” (Acts 16:30–34)
Last week we looked at the over-achieving Venn family, today we will consider one more. On this day in AD395 Gregory of Nyssa breathed his last, aged around sixty. He was the son of aristocratic, Christian parents and his father’s mother was venerated as a saint: St Macrina the Elder. His mother’s mother had been martyred for her faith by the Romans.
Gregory himself was elected bishop of Nyssa in 372, and was already well known for his defence of the doctrine of the Trinity: God is one essence in three persons. This work of defence he shared with his elder brother, St Basil the Great, and their close friend St Gregory Nazianzus. So, two brothers who are now venerated as saints, and whose grandmother is also so venerated - quite a claim!
Yet there is more. Their sister was a renowned nun and spiritual educator, St Macrina the Younger. She had a great influence on another brother who devoted himself to the study of the Bible and went on to become a bishop: St Peter of Sebaste. Another brother, became a hermit and a scholar: St Naucratius. So it was that five of these siblings are today honoured as saints in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Quite a family, but united in their wholehearted devotion to Christ and to the Scripture. It is for that they are remembered to this day.