St. Basil was born in Asia Minor. Two of his brothers became bishops, and, together with his mother and sister, are honored as Saints. He studied with great success at Athens, where he formed with St. Gregory Nazianzen the most tender friendship. He then taught oratory; but dreading the honors of the world, he gave up all, and became the father of the monastic life in the East.
The Arian heretics, supported by the court, were then persecuting the Church; and Basil was summoned from his retirement by his bishop to give aid against them. His energy and zeal soon mitigated the disorders of the Church.
On the death of Eusebius, he was chosen Bishop of Caesarea. His commanding character, his firmness and energy, his learning and eloquence, and not less his humility and the exceeding austerity of his life, made him a model for bishops.
St. Basil’s whole life was one of suffering. He lived amidst jealousies and misunderstandings and seeming disappointments. But he sowed the seed which bore goodly fruit in the next generation, and was God’s instrument in beating back the Arian and other heretics in the East, and restoring the spirit of discipline and fervor in the Church. He died in 379, and is venerated as a Doctor of the Church.
Reflection. —”Fear God,” says the Imitation of Christ, “and thou shalt have no need of being afraid of any man.”
Illustration and text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).