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SAINT BASIL THE GREAT

Saint Basil The Great Cappadocia

Basil (330 - 79) and Gregory (340 - 394), brothers, were born into a wealthy and influential Christian family from the Pontic region. Basil was educated at Caesarea in Cappadocia, Constantinople, and Athens both in pagan and Christian culture. He chose the ascetic life and began to live as a hermit by the river Iris (Yesilirmak) near Neocaesarea (Niksar) and devoted himself to according to the austere Rule which he drew up, founding a monastic community. In his Rule tried to stop the orthodox monks from becoming indifferent to the calls of secular society and civilization by the ascetic life which they led, as disapproved by the Synod of Gangra (Cankiri) in 340 BC, saying “ if you always live alone, whose feet will you wash? ”

In 364 at the behest of his bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (Palestine), he left his retirement to defend Orthodoxy against Arianism. In 370 he was elected The Bishop of Caesarea (Kayseri) and held this office for the rest of his life. Shortly after taking his seat he was visited by the Arian Emperor Valens who unsuccessfully tried to force him to support Arianism.

His ecclesiastical career was largely devoted to the defense of the Christian's creed as formulated at The Council of Nicaea (325) against the Arian heresy which formally came to an end at the Council of Constantinople in 381, shortly after Basil’s death.

In addition to his missionary and Literary Works, he is known to have established hospitals and hostels for the poor. Among his works, longer and shorter rules written for the conduct of monastic life still constitute the basis of the Rule followed in the Eastern Church.

Although strict, Basil’s rule avoided the extreme austerities of the hermits of the deserts and regarded asceticism as a means to the perfect service of God, to be archived in community life under obedience.