St. Basil the Great

Bishop of Caesarea

(330 - 375 A.D.)

St. Basil was born in Caesarea, Asia Minor, and received his education in Constantinople and Athens. He joined the University of Athens in 351 where he studied philosophy and the great classical works for five years. There he did very well in his studies and lived as an ascetic. He returned to Caesarea in 35S to teach at the university. He then traveled extensively in Syria and Egypt, where he visited the great hermits in the monasteries of the Eastern and Western Deserts of Egypt. He was deeply influenced by the life of the Egyptian monks and their great devotion to the worship of God. He was attracted to monasticism as a result of his visit to the Egyptian monasteries. He retired for study and contemplation at the bank of the River Iris, in Pontus. There he devoted his life completely to spiritual meditation in solitude until a number of followers gathered around him.

As a monk. St. Basil was influenced by St. Pachomius (A.D. 290) of Egypt who called for combatting idleness among monks and advocated a unique rganization of the monastic order which earned him the title "The Father of Monastic Communities". This inspired St. Basil the monk to build a house for the elderly and the disabled, as well as a hospital adjacent to one of the Orthodox monasteries at the outskirts of the city of Caesarea. St. Basil later became the founder of an important eastern monastic order, the Basilian Order.

St. Basil was a very close friend of St. Gregoryn the Bishop of Nazianzus - Constantinople. Together they wrote an outstanding work, The Philocalia, a collection of articles dealing with Origen (A.D. 185), the great Alexandrian theologian.

St. Basil became Bishop of Caesarea in the year 370 A.D. One of the greatest contributions of St. Basil to the Christian faith was his opposition to Arianism. Arianism was a movement which took place in the first third of the Mth century. Arius, the chief representative of the movement claimed that God, the Father, created Christ in time as His son, similar to Him but not completely equal to Him. In this Arius was attacked and proven totally wrong by a great number of the fathers of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt. One of those fathers with whom St. Basil collaborated in the fight against Arius was St. Athanasius (A.D. 296-373) Patriarch of Alexandrian who at the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) ably defended the doctrine of Christ's Divinity by proclaiming and proving beyond any doubt that Christ existed in eternity as God, and was and is and has always been consubstan- tial with God the Father in every aspect. It was St. Athanasius who formulated the Athanasian Creed, also known as the Orthodox Creed.

Quick Facts

+ The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great is the one most commonly used year around in the Coptic Church. The Basilian Liturgy was established at the end of the 4th Century, it drew heavily from that of St. Mark the Evangelist, the founder of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt. The Basilian Liturgy is addressed to God the Father.

+ St. Basil the Great, the champion of Eastern Orthodox, was born at Caesarea, the capital of Cappodcia in 330 A.D. of wealthy and noble Christian parents. He was deeply influenced by the life of the Egyptian monks and became attracted to monasticism as a result of his visit to the Egyptian monasteries.

+ As a monk, St. Basil was influenced by St. Pachomius (A.D. 290) of Egypt. St. Basil became Bishop of Caesarea in the year 370 A.D. Among his great contributions to the Christian faith is his collaboration with St. Athanasius (296-373 A.D.), the 20th Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt in fight against Arianism and in defending the doctrine of Christ's Divinity.


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