St Basil the Great

Brief Life of Saint Basil the Great

St. Basil the Great was born at Caesarea of Cappadocia in 330. He was one of ten children born to St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia. Several of his brothers and sisters are honored among the saints. He attended school in Caesarea, as well as Constantinople and Athens where he became acquainted with St. Gregory Nazianzen in 352. During this time Basil studied all available disciplines.

In less than five years, he became a great philosopher, philologist, orator, jurist, and naturalist. He also possessed profound knowledge in astronomy, mathematics, and medicine. After finishing his study, he opened an oratory school in Caesarea and practiced law.

By the year 357, St. Basil entered upon the path of ascetic life. He was baptized by Dianios, the Bishop of Caesarea, and was tonsured a reader on the Holy Spirit. In the year 362, Bishop Meletius of Antioch ordained him a deacon. In 364, he was ordained to the holy priesthood by Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea and soon he decided to become a monk and found a monastery in Pontus, which he directed for five years. He wrote a famous monastic rule, which has proved the most lasting of those in the East. After founding several other monasteries, he was made bishop of Caesaria in 370.

St. Basil served his faithful until his death in 379. During his life he remained a man of vast learning and constant activity. He created many hospitals, hospices, and centers of charity for the poor. People of his time called him the “Great”.

St. Basil was one of the giants of the early Church. He was responsible for the victory of Nicene orthodoxy over Arianism in the Byzantine East, and the denunciation of Arianism at the Council of Constantinople in 381-382 was in large measure due to his efforts. Basil fought simony, aided the victims of drought and famine, strove for a better clergy, insisted on a rigid clerical discipline, fearlessly denounced evil wherever he detected it, and excommunicated those involved in the widespread prostitution traffic in Cappadocia. He was a saint of great personal holiness, and one of the great orators of Christianity. The church called him “Doctor”. * In the Melkite Catholic Church, his feast day is January 1st.

* Saint Basil the Great, information center – www.Catholic.org