St. Basil was Bishop of Caesarea (an area now in eastern Turkey) in the fourth century and is one of the foremost Doctors of the Church who, along with St. Athanasius, is noted as an outstanding defender of Christian orthodoxy during the Arian heresy – a heresy that denied the Divine Nature of Christ, among its other errors. St. Basil was the son of St. Basil the Elder and Emmelia, the daughter of a Christian martyr. He was one of ten children, three of whom became saints – Basil, Macrina and Gregory. Basil, along with his brother St. Gregory of Nyssa and his friend St. Gregory of Naziansus, have been called the “Cappadocian Fathers” – renowned in Church history for their distinguished work and lives of holiness.
Born in 329, Basil was raised primarily by his grandmother. After completing his education and becoming a teacher at Caesarea, Basil underwent a profound spiritual conversion and set out on a journey in 357 to visit monasteries in Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Palestine. Upon his return, he gathered disciples and founded a monastic community near Annesi where his sister Macrina had already established a religious community.
Because of his innovations and philosophy of monastic life, and especially his creation of the Lesser Rule and the Greater Rule, Basil is considered to be the Father of Monasticism in the Eastern Churches. He gave monasticism a theological content and transformed it into an intellectual movement from simply the popular and evangelical movement it had been before. Basil’s monasteries had schools attached to them, preparing children for life in the monastery or for life as strong Christians “in the world” outside the monasteries. The Rule of St. Basil is still followed by members of religious communities in both the Eastern Catholic and the Orthodox churches.
Read more about St. Basil the Great here.
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