Father among the Saints Basil the Great (379).
In its services, the Church calls St Basil a "bee
of the Church of Christ":
bringing the honey of divinely-inspired wisdom to the faithful, stinging the
uprisings of heresy. Basil was born in Cappadocia to a wealthy and prominent family. Their worldly
wealth, however, is as nothing compared to the wealth of Saints that they have
given to the Church: his parents St Basil the Elder and St Emmelia;
his sister St Macrina (July 19), the spiritual head
of the family; and his brothers St Gregory of Nyssa (January 10), and St Peter,
future bishop of Sebaste (January 9).
Inspired and tutored by his father, a renowned
professor of rhetoric, the brilliant Basil set out to master the secular
learning and arts of his day, travelling to Athens, where he studied alongside
his life-long friend St Gregory of Nazianzus. When he
returned from his studies in 356, he found that his mother and his sister Macrina had turned the family home into a convent, and that
his brothers had also taken up the monastic life nearby. Puffed up by his
secular accomplishments, he at first resisted his sister's pleas to take up a
life devoted to God, but at last, through her prayers and admonition, entered
upon the ascetical life.
After travelling among the monks of Egypt, Palestine
and Syria, he settled in Cappadocia as a hermit, living in utter poverty and writing his
ascetical homilies. A monastic community steadily gathered around him, and for
its good order St Basil wrote his Rule, which is regarded as the charter of
monasticism. (St Benedict in the West was familiar with this Rule, and his own
is modelled on it.)
In about 370 he was consecrated Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia. Even as bishop, he continued to live without any
possessions save a worn garment to cover himself. At
this time the Arian heresy was rending the Church, and it became St Basil's lot
to defend Orthodoxy in Sermons and writings, a task which he fulfilled with
such erudition and wisdom that he is called "Basil the Great."
in peace in 379, at the age of forty-nine.
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