Book of Saints – Basil the Great


BASIL THE GREAT (Saint) Bishop, (June 14) Doctor of the Church. (4th century) Saint Basil, surnamed the Great, one of the most celebrated of the Greek Fathers, came of a family of Saints, the best known of whom are his brother, Saint Gregory Nyssen, and his sister, Saint Macrina. Born at Caesarea in Cappadocia (Asia Minor) he early distinguished himself as a student at Constantinople and at Athens, in which last city he contracted a close friendship with Saint Gregory Nazianzen, destined like him to become a Bishop and Doctor of the Church. Saint Basil was consecrated Bishop of Caesarea on June 14, A.D. 370, and died January 1, A.D. 379. He is famous for his defence before the Emperor Constantius of the Catholic Faith, and in particular of the word “Consubstantial,” inserted in the Nicene Creed. He has left many writings, among them his Hexaemeron or Treatise on Genesis, several hundred letters and a series of Homilies. Saint Gregory Nazianzen allots to him the first place among commentators on the Bible, and the great scholar Erasmus declares Saint Basil to have been the finest orator of all time. Saint Basil led the life of a monk, and wrote a Rule for his brethren still followed in the East. In art Saint Basil is represented as standing near a fire with a dove perched on his arm. His Encomium, by his brother, Saint Gregory Nyssen, and his Life by Amphilochius, are among religious classics. Cardinal Newman’s Life of Saint Basil should also be read.

MLA Citation

  • Monks of Ramsgate. “Basil the Great”. Book of Saints, 1921. CatholicSaints.Info. 19 August 2012. Web. 30 November 2020. <>