Three Hierarchs: St. Gregory Nazianzus



  1. For these students, concentrate on St. Gregory Nazianzus – his life and how he served the Lord.
  2. Students should know the word “hierarch” and that it means bishop.
  3. Students should be able to name the three hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory Nazianzus the Theologian, and St. John Chrysostom..


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of St. Gregory:

Gregory was born in the small town of Nazianzus in Asia Minor. His mother taught him about Jesus. But Gregory wondered, why did he never see Jesus? Was Jesus real?

Gregory was a very good student. He first studied in the little school in Nazianzus. Then he went to Alexandria, and finally, when Gregory was 16 years old, he decided to go to Athens. His parents were very sad; he would be so far away. Gregory boarded the ship and set sail. But, soon a storm came. It was so fierce that the captain lost control of the ship. For days they were lost in the darkness and rain. They had no food or water. Gregory prayed and prayed. Finally the storm ended and another ship came, giving them food and supplies. They were saved! Gregory knew that his prayers had been answered and he knew that Jesus was really God.

In Athens, Gregory met his old friend Basil from the school in Alexandria. They were both studying in Athens. Soon the two friends were living together and spent 10 years studying in Athens. Finally, Gregory got a letter from home. His father, now the Bishop of Nazianzus, was old and needed help with his work. Gregory left Athens and his friend Basil and went home. His family were so happy to see him! Gregory helped his father to manage their farm and home, but he became ill. He left Nazianzus to join Basil at a monastery in the mountains and there got well again.

But, all was not well at home. Gregory traveled to Nazianzus for a visit. As he approached his house, he saw a crowd of unbelievers with clubs and logs! They were going to batter down the door and kill his family! Gregory was a small, shy, bald man, but he ran right in front of the crowd and stopped them at the door. He spoke to them for an hour, telling them about Jesus and God, until the whole mob became Christian! After this, the people of Nazianzus loved Gregory and his family. They asked for Gregory to be their priest. Gregory fled back to Basil and the monastery, but Basil sent him back; God had called Gregory to be priest and he must obey.

Several years later, when Basil was Bishop of Caesarea, he ordained Gregory Bishop of Sasima. Gregory was angry; he did not want to go to Sasima. He refused to obey. The next year was a terrible one – first his beloved brother Caesarius died, then his sister, his father and mother, all the animals of the land and even the crops with a hailstorm – even his good friend Basil died. All his family and friends were gone; Gregory cried and cried. He went out alone to the mountains, lost in his loneliness. But, Gregory came back from the mountains a new man, strong in the Lord. He was now not afraid to teach the people. He wrote books and letters about the Lord. Many of his writings we have to this day. Because of his wise writings, Gregory of Nazianzus is also known as Gregory the Theologian.


Add the three hierarchs to your timeline. 


  1. True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            Gregory and Basil were good friends.            Gregory and Basil were brothers.

            Gregory was from Nazianzus.                        Gregory was from Athens.

            Gregory saved his family from an angry        Gregory ran away from the mob and

                        mob.                                                                hid.


  1. Think a bit about fighting evil: Who do you picture when you say someone is a great fighter for good and against evil? Maybe Superman or Batman? What characteristics does a fighter of evil need to have? Strength? Boxing or karate skills? Tall? Now picture St. Gregory Nazianzus. Short, small, shy, and bald…Review the story of David and Goliath; it’s in the Read with Me Bible. What characteristics does God

look for in a fighter of evil? Does God look for the same things we do? Can I be a fighter of evil?  


  1. Make Bible Bookends: Take a brick for each child. Spray paint it (your choice of color) or leave it bare; glue a piece of felt on one small end. Color the pictures of each of the “Three Hierarchs” – St. Basil, St. Gregory Nazianzus, and St. John Chrysostom. Do they remember St. John Chrysostom from last week’s lesson? Repeat the three names until the students can say them and identify them as the Three Hierarchs. Cut out and glue one on each of three sides of the brick. These make nice bookends or a doorstop.


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, give me the courage of St. Gregory whenever I face evil and have to stand up for good.