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Basil the Great

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[[Image:Basil.jpg|right|frame|Icon of Saint Basil at Skete.com]]Our father among the saints '''Basil the Great''' (ca. 330 - [[January 1]], 379)For other uses, was see [[bishop]] of Caesarea, a leading churchman in the 4th century. The Church considers him a [[saint]] and one of the [[Three Holy Hierarchs]], together with Saints [[Gregory the Theologian]] Basil (Gregory Nazianzusdisambiguation) and [[John Chrysostom]]. Basil, Gregory the Theologian, and Basil's brother Saint [[Gregory of Nyssa]] are called the [[Cappadocian Fathers]]. The [[Roman Catholic Church]] also considers him a saint and calls him a Doctor of the Church. '
[[File:01 basil2.jpg|right|frame|Icon of Saint Basil at Skete.com]]Our father among the saints '''Basil the Great''' (ca. 330 - [[January 1]], 379), was [[bishop]] of [[Caesarea]], a leading churchman in the 4th century. The Church considers him a [[saint]] and one of the [[Three Holy Hierarchs]], together with Saints [[Gregory the Theologian]] (Gregory Nazianzus) and [[John Chrysostom]]. Basil, Gregory the Theologian, and Basil's brother Saint [[Gregory of Nyssa]] are called the [[Cappadocian Fathers]]. The [[Roman Catholic Church]] also considers him a saint and calls him a Doctor of the Church.  Basil's memory is celebrated on [[January 1]]; he is also remembered on [[January 30]] with the [[Three Holy Hierarchs]]. In Greek tradition, he is supposed to visit children and give presents every [[January 1]]. This festival is also marked by the baking of [[Vasilopita|Saint Basil's bread]] (Gr. ''Vasilópita''), a sweetbread sweet bread with a coin hidden inside.
He should not be confused with Saint [[Basil the Blessed]], [[Fool-for-Christ]], a Russian [[saint]], after whom [[St. Basil's Cathedral (Moscow)|St. Basil's Cathedral]], on Red Square in Moscow, is named.
Basil was born about 330 at Caesarea in Cappadocia.
He came from a wealthy and pious family which gave a number of saints, including his mother Saint [[Emily]] (also styled Emilia or Emmelia), grandmother Saint [[Macrina the Elder]], sister Saint [[Macrina the Younger]] and brothers Saints [[Gregory of Nyssa]] and [[Peter of Sebaste]].
It is also a widely held tradition that Saint [[Theosebia the Deaconess|Theosebia]] was his youngest sister, who is also a saint in the Church.
While still a child, the family moved to Pontus; but he soon returned to Cappadocia to live with his mother's relations, and seems to have been brought up by his grandmother Macrina. Eager to learn, he went to Constantinople and spent four or five years there and at Athens, where he had the future emperor [[Julian the Apostate|Julian]] for a fellow student and became friends with [[Gregory the Theologian]]. Both Basil and Gregory were deeply influenced by [[Origen]] and compiled an anthology of uncondemned writings of Origen known as the ''Philokalia'' (not to be confused with the [[Philokalia|later compilation of the same name]]).
After this we find him at the head of a convent near Arnesi in Pontus, in which his mother Emily, now a widow, his sister Macrina and several other ladies, gave themselves to a pious life of prayer and charitable works. Basil sided with those who overcame the aversion to the ''[[homoousios]]'' in common opposition to [[Arianism]], thus drawing nearer to Saint [[Athanasius of Alexandria|Athanasius the Great]].
He was [[ordination|ordained ]] [[presbyter ]] of the Church at Caesarea in 365, and his ordination was probably the result of the entreaties of his ecclesiastical superiors, who wished to use his talents against the Arians, who were numerous in that part of the country and were favoured by the Arian emperor, Valens, who then reigned in Constantinople.
In 370 [[Eusebius of Caesarea|Eusebius]], bishop of Caesarea, died, and Basil was chosen to succeed him. It was then that his great powers were called into action. Caesarea was an important [[diocese]], and its [[bishop ]] was, ''ex officio'', [[exarch ]] of the great diocese of Pontus. Hot-blooded and somewhat imperious, Basil was also generous and sympathetic. His zeal for orthodoxy did not blind him to what was good in an opponent; and for the sake of peace and charity he was content to waive the use of orthodox terminology when it could be surrendered without a sacrifice of truth.
With all his might he resisted the emperor Valens, who strove to introduce Arianism into his diocese, and impressed the emperor so strongly that, although inclined to banish the intractable bishop, he left him unmolested. To an imperial prefect, astonished at Saint Basil's temerity, he said, "Perhaps you have never before dealt with a proper bishop."
To save the Church from Arianism, Basil entered into connections with the West, and with the help of Athanasius, he tried to overcome its distrustful attitude toward the Homoousians.
The difficulties had been enhanced by bringing in the question as to the essence of the Holy Spirit. Although Basil advocated objectively the consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son, he belonged to those, who, faithful to Eastern tradition, would not allow the predicate homoousios to the former; for this he was reproached as early as 371 by the Orthodox zealots among the monks[[monk]]s, and Athanasius defended him.
His relations also with [[Eustathius of Sebaste|Eustathius]] were maintained in spite of dogmatic differences and caused suspicion. On the other hand, Basil was grievously offended by the extreme adherents of Homoousianism, who seemed to him to be reviving the Sabellian heresy.
He did not live to see the end of the unhappy factional disturbances and the complete success of his continued exertions in behalf of Rome and the East. He suffered from liver illness and his excessive [[asceticism]] seems to have hastened him to an early death.
He was a famous preacher, and many of his homilies, including a series of Lenten lectures on ''The Six Days of Creation'' (Gr. ''Hexaëmeron''), and an exposition of the psalter, have been preserved. Some, like that against usury and that on the famine in 368, are valuable for the history of morals; others illustrate the honor paid to [[martyr]]s and [[relics]]; the address to young men on the study of classical literature shows that Basil was lastingly influenced by his own education, which taught him to appreciate the importance of the classics as preparatory instruction.
His ascetic tendencies are exhibited in the ''Moralia'' and ''Regulae'', ethical manuals for use in the world and the cloister respectively. Of the [[monasticism|monastic ]] rules traced to Basil, the shorter is the one most probably his work.
It is in the ethical manuals and moral sermons that the practical aspects of his theoretical theology are illustrated. So, for example, it is in his ''Sermon to the Lazicans'' that we find Basil explaining how it is our common nature that obliges us to treat our neighbor's natural needs (e.g., hunger, thirst) as our own, even though he is a separate individual. Later theologians [[theologian]]s explicitly explain this as an example of how the saints become an image of the one common nature of the persons of the Trinity.
His three hundred letters reveal a rich and observant nature, which, despite the troubles of ill-health and ecclesiastical unrest, remained optimistic, tender and even playful.
:Sealing it with your precepts,
:O Venerable and Heavenly Father Basil.
 
==Bibliography==
* Holy Apostles Convent, ''The Lives of the Three Great Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom'' (Holy Apostles Convent Pubns, 2001) (ISBN 0944359116)
==External links==
*[http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-08/TOC.htm Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Early Church Fathers, Series II, Vol. VIII] contains the treatise on the Holy Spirit, the Hexaemeron, some of the homilies and the letters.
*[http://orthodoxchurchquotes.com/category/sayings-from-saints-elders-and-fathers/st-basil-the-great/ Quotes from St. Basil the Great] - [http://orthodoxchurchquotes.com Orthodox Church Quotes] website
*[http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/encyc/encyc01/htm/iii.x.v.htm Basil, Saint, the Great] from the CCEL, ''The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge'', Vol. I, by Philip Schaff
*[http://pagez.ru/lsn/ ''The Heritage of the Holy Fathers'']: A more complete collection of his homilies (and some other works, but only a few of his letters) available in Russian.
*[http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?FSID=100003 St. Basil the Great the Archbishop of Caesarea, in Cappadocia] ([[OCA]])
*[http://oca.org/FStropars.asp?ID=100003 St. Basil the Great: Hymns] (OCA)
*[http://goarch.org/en/chapel/saints.asp?contentid=/364 Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia] ([[GOARCH]])*[http://www.comeandseeicons.com/b/cap33.htm Icon and Story of St. Basil the Great]
==Sources==
[[Category:Bishops]]
[[Category:4th-century bishops]]
[[Category:Church Fathers]]
[[Category:Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers]]
[[Category:Featured Articles]]
[[Category:Saints]]
[[Category:Byzantine Saints]]
[[Category:4th-century saints]]
[[fr:Basile le Grand]]
[[ro:Vasile cel Mare]]
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