St Caesarius – Mar 9 I Brother of St Gregory, the Theologian

Published by Jacob P Varghese on

St. Caesarius {Kesarios, Caesarios (Gk)} was born in Ad 331, in Arianzus, near Nazianzus, as the son of St Gregory, the elder and St. Nonna and the brother of St Gregory the Theologian. He was like his brother, a theological writer. He probably studied at Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia in preparation for the elite schools of Alexandria in Egypt. He studied oratory, philosophy, medicine and other subjects like geometry and astronomy in Alexandria. He excelled in schools and in medicine he surpassed all his fellow students. He later went to Constantinople and became one of the city’s leading physician doctors. His reputation was such that Emperor Constantius II, wanted to make him his personal physician, which St Caesarius thanked him, but declined.

When his brother St Gregory completed his studies in Athens, he visited Constantinople (358 – 360), where he met Caesarius. The two brothers then, returned to Nazianzus together. In 361, Julian the Apostate became Emperor, he summoned St Caesarius to Constantinople to become his physician. Although the evil Emperor was a fierce persecutor of the Church and issued many edicts against Christians, he exempted St Caesarius from any punishment. Julian repeatedly tried to turn St Caesarius away from Christ, but he did not succeed. St Caesarius, though only a catechumen and a Christian in training, finally, at the request of his father and his brother, Caesarius resigned his position and went back home to Nazianzus, thus Caesarius sacrificed a remunerative and honourable post to return home with Gregory. Emperor Julian died in the year 363, St Caesarius once again returned to Constantinople. Under the Emperors Valentinian (364 – 374) and his brother Valens (374 – 378), he was appointed as treasurer of public funds at Nicaea in Bithynia.

On October 11, 368, a severe earthquake struck the city of Nicaea Bithynia, destroying it completely, but St Caesarius was miraculously unharmed. According to some biographers, it is said that rescuers dug him from the rubbles and that he experienced an epiphany. He accepted baptism and he gave away all his belongings to the poor and began to live a quiet, prayerful life. Realizing, how the Lord watches over His servants, Caesarius left the service of the world and lived in complete devotion to God. 

In his works he writes, how long did Adam and Eve spend in Paradise before the Fall? Saint Caesarius wrote that our first parents’ time in Paradise was forty days; and that for this reason Christ fasted for forty days in the wilderness, being tempted by the Devil. Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan’s tempting and ate the fruit which had been expressly forbidden to them by their Creator. “For, while the old Adam was not able to withstand the devil’s temptation in the abundance of Paradise, the New Adam withstood him as a true knight in hunger and thirst in the wilderness.”

His righteous repose occurred in 368 or early in 369. St Gregory the Theologian, delivered a funeral oration for St Caesarius and gave the details of Caesarius’ life while conducting his funeral. In his writings he also mentions his brother’s wisdom, and how respected he was in his lifetime. Gregory portrays his brother, St. Caesarius, as a model Christian and ascetic. Brother of St. Gregory 


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