Baring-Gould’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Peter, Bishop of Sebaste


(about 387)

[Roman Martyrology and Greek Menasa. The life of Saint Peter occurs in that of his sister, Saint Macrina, written by his brother, Saint Gregory of Nyssa. He is also spoken of by Socrates, Theodoret, and Philostorgius.]

The family of which Saint Peter was descended was very ancient and illustrious, as we are informed by Saint Gregory Nazianzen. It has become famous for its saints, for three brothers were at the same time eminently holy bishops, Saint Basil, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, and Saint Peter of Sebaste; and their elder sister, Saint Macrina, was the spiritual mother of many saints. Their father and mother, Saint Basil the elder, and Saint Emilia, were banished for their faith in the reign of Galerius Maximian, and fled into the deserts of Pontus; they are commemorated in the Roman martyrology on May 30th. The grandmother of Saint Peter was Saint Macrina the elder, who had been instructed in the way of salvation by Saint Gregory the Wonder-worker. Saint Peter ol Sebaste, was the youngest of ten children; he lost his father whilst stir, an infant, and was therefore brought up by his mother and sister. “When the aged Emilia was dying, she drew her two children — the only two who were present – to her, and taking their hands, she looked up to heaven, and having prayed God to protect, govern, and sanctify her absent children, she said, “To Thee, O Lord, I dedicate the first-fruits, and the tenth of my womb. This, my first-born, Macrina, I give thee as my first-fruits; and this, my tenth child, Peter, I give thee as my tithe. They are thine by law, and thine they are by my free gift. Hallow, I pray thee, this my first-bom daughter, and this my tenth child, and son.” And thus blessing them, she expired, says Saint Gregory Nyssen. Saint Emilia had founded two monasteries, one for men, the other for women; the former she put under the direction of her son Basil, the latter under that of her daughter Macrina. Peter, whose thoughts where wholly bent on cultivating the seeds of piety sown in his heart, retired into the house governed by his brother, situated on the bank of the river Iris; and Avhen Saint Basil was obliged to quit that post in 362, he left the abbacy in the hands of Saint Peter, who discharged this office for several years with great prudence and virtue. Soon after Saint Basil was made Bishop of Caesarea, in Cappadocia, in 370, he promoted his brother Peter to the priesthood. His brother, Saint Basil, died on January 1st, A.D. 379, and Eustathius, Bishop of Sebaste, an Arian and a furious persecutor of Saint Basil, died soon after. Saint Peter was consecrated in his room, in 380, to root out the Arian heresy in that diocese, where it had taken deep hold. In 381, he attended the general council held at Constantinople, and joined in the condemnation of the Macedonian heresy. His death happened in summer, about the year 387, and his brother, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, mentions that his memory was honoured at Sebaste by an anniversary solemnity. “Peter,” says Nicephorus, “who sprang from the same parents as Basil, was not so well-read in profane literature as his brother, but he was not his inferior in the splendour of his virtue.”

MLA Citation

  • Sabine Baring-Gould. “Saint Peter, Bishop of Sebaste”. Lives of the Saints, 1897. CatholicSaints.Info. 8 January 2014. Web. 21 May 2019. <>