Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great, (329 or 330 ? January 1, 379) (Greek:Βασίλειος ὁ Μέγας, Basíleios ho Mégas; ) was the Greek bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). He was an influential theologian who supported the Nicene Creed and opposed the heresies of the early Christian church, fighting against both Arianism and the followers of Apollinaris of Laodicea. His ability to balance his theological convictions with his political connections made Basil a powerful advocate for the Nicene position.
In addition to his work as a theologian, Basil was known for his care of the poor and underprivileged. Basil established guidelines for monastic life which focus on community life, liturgical prayer, and manual labour. Together with Pachomius he is remembered as a father of communal monasticism in Eastern Christianity. He is considered a saint by the traditions of both Eastern and Western Christianity.
Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa are collectively referred to as the Cappadocian Fathers. The Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches have given him, together with Gregory of Nazianzus and John Chrysostom, the title of Great Hierarch. His is recognised as a Doctor of the Church in both Eastern Orthodoxy and in the Roman Catholic Church. He is sometimes referred to by the epithet ??????????????, ?revealer of heavenly mysteries?.
The theology of Gregory Thaumaturgus, a student of Origen, influenced Basil through his grandmother Macrina the Elder.
Basil was born into the wealthy family of Basil the Elder, a famous rhetor, and Emmelia of Caesarea, in Pontus, around 330. His parents were renowned for their piety,[ and his maternal grandfather was a Christian martyr, executed in the years prior to Constantine I?s conversion. Among Basil?s siblings, four are commonly venerated as saints: Macrina the Younger, Naucratius, Peter of Sebaste and Gregory of Nyssa.
He was brought up by his grandmother, the elder Macrina, who had been follower of Gregory Thaumaturgus who had founded the nearby church of Neocaesarea. Basil received his formal education in Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia (modern-day Kayseri, Turkey) around 350-51. There he met Gregory of Nazianzus, who would become a lifetime friend. Together, Basil and Gregory went on to study in Constantinople, where they would have listened to the lectures of Libanius. Finally, the two spent almost six years in Athens starting around 349, where they met a fellow student who would become the emperor Julian the Apostate. Basil left Athens in 356, and after travelling in Egypt and Syria, he returned to Caesarea, where for around a year he practiced law and taught rhetoric. A year later, Basil?s life would change radically after he encountered Eustathius of Sebaste, a charismatic bishop and ascetic.
Basil soon abandoned his legal and teaching professions in order to devote his life to God. Describing his spiritual awakening in a letter, Basil said:
? I had wasted much time on follies and spent nearly all of my youth in vain labors, and devotion to the teachings of a wisdom that God had made foolish. Suddenly, I awoke as out of a deep sleep. I beheld the wonderful light of the Gospel truth, and I recognized the nothingness of the wisdom of the princes of this world.