Basil the Great, Saint

Basil the Great, Saint

(bă`zĭl, bā`–), c.330–379, Greek prelate, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Doctor of the Church and one of the Four Fathers of the Greek Church. He was a brother of St. Gregory of Nyssa. In his student days at Athens he knew Julian, later Roman emperor, and began his lifelong friendship with St. Gregory NazianzenGregory Nazianzen, Saint
, c.330–390, Cappadocian theologian, Doctor of the Church, one of the Four Fathers of the Greek Church. He is sometimes called Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory Theologus. He studied widely in his youth and was from his student days a friend of St.
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. Converted to the religious life by his sister, St. Macrina, he withdrew (c.357) to a retreat in Pontus. There he wrote much of the Longer Rule and of the Shorter Rule; on these the life of the Basilian monksBasilian monks
, monks primarily of the Eastern Church. They follow the Rule of St. Basil the Great, which has been universal among them since the 7th cent. They have no centralized government; the rule treats proper monastic living, not organization.
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 is based. Through his rules Basil was a spiritual ancestor of St. Benedict. As counselor (365) and successor (370) of Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea and head of most of the church in Asia Minor, Basil established Nicene orthodoxy over ArianismArianism
, Christian heresy founded by Arius in the 4th cent. It was one of the most widespread and divisive heresies in the history of Christianity. As a priest in Alexandria, Arius taught (c.
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 in the Byzantine East. His revision of the liturgy is occasionally used in the Byzantine rite. His works On the Holy Ghost and Against Eunomius are elegant, acute defenses of the Catholic system. In the West his feast is June 14.

Bibliography

See his letters tr. by R. J. Deferrari (4 vol., 1926–34); studies by G. L. Prestige (1956), E. Amand de Mendieta (1965), and M. G. Murphy (1971).

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