Saint Basil the Great was born at Caesarea of Cappadocia in 330. He was one of ten children of 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. A little later, he opened a school of oratory in Caesarea and practiced law.

Eventually 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 ordained and, in 370, made bishop of Caesarea. In this post until his death in 379, he continued to be a man of vast learning and constant activity, genuine eloquence and immense charity.

This earned for him the title of “Great” during his life and Doctor of the Church after his death. He 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 381-82 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 learned, accomplished in statesmanship, a man of great personal holiness, and one of the great orators of Christianity.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. How awesome he shares the same Feast day with his good friend, St Gregory Nazianzen! Love to hear that he denounced evil wherever he detected it. And stood strong by excommunicating those in the prostitution trafficking! We need more courageous Saints like him in our own day. A good “sweeping of the house” would do our Church a word of good! St Basil the Great, please pray for us!

  2. Amen to that Monica! In addition to a “good sweeping of the house,” We could use a good sweeping of ALL our elected officials in D.C. too come next election!

  3. O great and most glorious hierarch of Christ, divinely-wise teacher of the Church in all the world, firm confessor and champion of Orthodoxy, all-blessed Father Basil!
    Look down from the heights of Heaven upon us who humbly fall down before thee, and entreat the Lord Almighty, Whose faithful minister on earth thou wast,
    to grant us firm and unchanging custody of the right Faith, obedience to the Holy Church,
    correction of our way of life, and swift help patience and strength in all our needs, sorrows and temptations.
    Bestow thy holy blessing upon us, so that, protected by it, in this new year, we might live every day in a manner pleasing unto God,
    in peace and penitence, and be vouchsafed together with thee and all the Saints, in the kingdom of Heaven to hymn and glorify the Life-creating Trinity: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for ages of ages.

    Amen.

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