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St. Basil the Great: Father of Communal Monasticism

January 2, 2012
He was a strong supporter of the Nicene Creed - the profession of faith that is most commonly used when we come together to celebrate Mass.
He is none other than St. Basil the Great. In the Universal Catholic Church, we celebrate his feast day today and  so do the Anglican and Lutheran Churches. We also call to mind the incredible spirituality and impact that St. Basil the Great left on the Church in Europe.
When we begin looking at his early life, we know that St. Basil the Great was born around the year 330 AD. He came into this world through the support of a very wealthy family, in Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia. Today, Cappadocia is most widely known as Kayseri, Turkey.
Shortly after he was born, his family moved to Pontus. It was at Pontus where he was schooled at home by both his father and grandmother.
Basil then returned to Caesarea in Cappadocia around the year 350-51, where he began his formal studies. It was at school where he met his life-long friend, Gregory of Nazianzus.
Both Basil and Gregory studied under Libanius in Constantinople. They also spent six years in Athens.  For a brief period, St. Basil practiced law and taught rhetoric in Caesarea, after returning from Athens around the year 355.
In his most significant move yet, St. Basil put aside his legal and teaching aspirations in order to devote his life to God.
In 357, St. Basil travelled to Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Mesopotamia to study ascetics and monasticism. Upon his return, he along with his brother Peter started a monastic settlement on his family estate. His mother Emmelia, sister Macrina and several other women joined them in living out a more fruitful and pious life.
Interestingly enough, St. Basil the Great is the patron Saint for both hospital administrators and reformers. More than that, he is the patron saint for the region of Cappadocia in Turkey. This is quite significant because being a Patron Saint for the region of Cappadocia serves as a reminder to all that Christianity has a long history in that particular region, especially in Russia.
On this day, most especially, we give thanks to God for the gift of St. Basil and for the many religious Basilians who serve us and the Universal Church, especially our very own Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB.
Without their zeal, strength and love for God and the Church, this world would definitely be a different place.
St. Basil, may you continue to intercede for us - now and forever.