Saint Basil the Great was born at Caesarea of Cappadocia in 330. He was one of 10 children. His father was Saint Basil, the Elder and his mother was Saint Emmelia. His grandfather was a saint and martyr of the early Church. Several of his brothers and sisters are also saints. Many of his family became canonized saints. He became the best known of them.
He went to school in Caesarea, Constantinople, and Athens. He met Saint Gregory Nazianzen in 352. He opened a school to teach and began practicing law.
His life changed when he met Eustathius of Sebaste. Eustasius was a great bishop. Basil became a monk and began a monastery. Basil asked Saint Gregory to join him as a monk. Basil thought prayer, studying scriptures, and work was important in a monastery. In 370, Basil has ordained a priest. Basil replaced Eusebius after he died.
In 374, Basil was the Bishop of Caesarea. He had a temper but was generous and kind. Arianism was teaching against the Church. Emperor Valens persecuted people who were true to the faith. This was hard for Basil. Many people wanted him to go along instead of being faithful. Basil stayed true to the faith. Valens eventually backed down. When Saint Athanasius died, Basil was left to continue to defend the faith. He also fought against the buying and selling of religious privileges. He called evil everywhere he saw it. Basil stayed in Caesarea until he died in 379.
Basil was called “Great” during his lifetime. He was declared a Doctor of the Church after his death. He is considered one of the three Cappadocian Fathers, with Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa.
Basil the Great is the patron Saint for both hospital administrators and reformers.
Prayer of St. Basil the Great
O Lord our God, we beseech you,
To ask for the gift we need.
Steer the ship of our life to yourself,
The quiet harbor of all storm-stressed souls.
Show us the course which we are to take.
Renew in us the spirit of docility.
Let your Spirit curb our fickleness; guide and strengthen us
To perform what is for our own good,
To keep your commandments and
Ever to rejoice in your glorious and vivifying presence.
Yours is the glory and praise for all eternity.