OLPH Church
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Byzantine Catholic Church

The Feast of St Basil the Great   

St. Basil was born in the year 330 AD in the city of Caesarea, Asia Minor.  He was one of six children who all became saints in our Church.  His brothers and sister became priests, bishops, and nuns.  His parents were very devoted to the faith and gave their children a great spiritual heritage, which they cultivated in their lifetime.  The family of St. Basil was the greatest Christian family of the 4th century.  St. Basil studied in Constantinople and Athens.  He studied with his best friend, St. Gregory, in the cultural centers of the world.  St. Basil was one of the greatest writers and speakers of the Christian Church.  Although his fame was spread over the entire Christian world of his day, he returned to his own home town and was ordained Bishop of Caesarea on June 14, 370 AD.

St. Basil was an authority on the monastic life.  He formulated the rules and regulations for the monks of his day, and these rules still prevail in most of the Christian monasteries of the world.  St. Basil prepared the Divine Liturgy that we love and know so well.  Although the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is used 42 Sundays a year in our Church, it is based on the slightly longer Divine Liturgy of St. Basil.  St. John merely shortened the lengthy prayers and made minor alterations in other prayers.  The Liturgy of St. Basil is celebrated ten times each year: during the Lenten period, Christmas Eve, and on January 1st, the anniversary of his death.

St. Basil was indeed one of the greatest pillars of the Church.  He loved children and always assisted the sick and the homeless.  He was the first bishop to establish orphanages and hospitals and old age homes.  He first directed the attention of the Church to these unfortunate victims of society.
Why was St. Basil given the name “Great”?  Only a few people in the world were ever given the magnificent title, “Great”!  Alexander the Great was so-called because he conquered the world, but St. Basil was called “Great” because he conquered the hearts and souls of men for Jesus Christ.  His whole life was dedicated to Jesus and the message of Christianity.  He had the humility of Moses, the zeal of Elijah, the piety of Peter, the eloquence of John the Theologian, and the dedication of Paul.  He died in the Lord on January 1, 379 AD.

Reprinted from Lives of the Saints and Major Feast Days by Fr. George Poulos, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, Department of Religious Education, 1974, p. 39.