Saint Basil the Great

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Basil, St, ‘the Great’ (c.330–79). One of the three Cappadocian fathers, and the first of the three Holy Hierarchs of the E. Church. Besides his eloquence and personal holiness, Basil was known for his talent for administration. His two monastic rules (see below) determined the structure of E. Christian monasticism ever since. He built hospitals and hostels alongside church buildings in Caesarea, and organized relief for the poor. His writings, in addition to letters, are a treatise On the Holy Spirit, three anti-Arian books Against Eunomius, and homilies. Feast day in W., 2 Jan.; in the E., 1 Jan.

The Rule of Basil has two forms, each set out as a series of questions and answers about the monastic life. Stopping well short of the extreme deprivations of the desert hermits, it prescribed liturgical prayer at fixed hours, manual work, poverty and chastity, community life, care for the poor, and the education of children. The present form of the rule is a revision by Theodore of Studios (d. 826).

The Liturgy of Basil is used in the E. Church in place of that of Chrysostom on a few fixed days (e.g. the Sundays in Lent) each year.

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Basil the Great, Saint (329–79) Doctor of the Church and one of the four Fathers of the Greek Church. He founded a monastic community, and in 370 was ordained bishop of Caesarea, Cappadocia. Basil established the dominance of the Nicene Creed, and was a fierce opponent of Arianism. He is thought to have composed the Liturgy of St Basil, which is still used in the Eastern Orthodox Church. His feast day is January 2 in the West; January 1 in the East.