Saints and Saintly Dominicans – 14 June

detail of an illustration of Saint Basil the Caesarea, by Francesco Bartolozzi, 19th century; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsSaint Basil the Great, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

The friendship of Saint Basil with Saint Gregory Nazianzen from their earliest youth is well known. It was a pure unselfish friendship, without flattery and tending only to progress in good. Saint Basil founded several communities of monks and prescribed rules in which the severity of the solitary life was tempered by a certain amount of active work. This organization has caused him to be looked upon as the Father of the Eastern monks, even those who followed Saint Antony, just as Saint Benedict is regarded as the Father of the monks of the West. Saint Basil continued to be superior of these religious even after he had been made Archbishop of Caesarea. For, the Church of God being attacked by the Arians, he felt bound to sacrifice the delights of solitude in order to defend the truth by his preaching and writings. This he did regardless of persecution and threats of death from Julian, the apostate and the Emperor Valens. His audiences were so numerous and so moved by his words that they seemed like a stormy ocean. The Holy Ghost, under the form of a dove, was often seen assisting him while he wrote. Saint Basil often passed his days fasting and his nights in prayer; his life was one of such austere penance that when he died he seemed to be nothing but skin and bones (379).

Prayer

O my God, grant that the religious spirit may flourish, particularly the monastic spirit, even in the world.

Practice

Ask Saint Basil to strengthen the Christians in the East in the faith, and to bring them back, if they have unfortunately strayed from it.