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St. Basil the Great - Bilingual Anthology

LOVE CAN NOT BE TAUGHT

from the Long Rules, * Rule 2. Translated by Elpenor * Greek Fonts


OVE for God can not be taught. No one taught us to enjoy the light nor to want life, nor anyone else taught us to love our parents or those who raised us. Similarly or rather much more, knowledge of divine love does not come from outside. But in the same time when man was composed, a seminal reason was deposited in us, which has by itself the causes of appropriating love. ...

Only the good is properly beautiful and lovable. God is good. Everything loves good, therefore, everything loves God. … To be alienated and to depart from God is unbearable, even more than the fire of hell. …

 

 

 

ἀδίδακτος ἡ πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν ἀγάπη

Ἀδίδακτος μὲν ἡ πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν ἀγάπη. Οὔτε γὰρ φωτὶ χαίρειν͵ καὶ ζωῆς ἀντιποιεῖσθαι παρ΄ ἄλλου μεμαθήκαμεν͵ οὔτε τὸ ἀγαπᾷν τοὺς τεκόντας ἢ θρεψαμένους ἕτερος ἐδίδαξεν. Οὕτως οὖν͵ ἢ καὶ πολὺ μᾶλλον τοῦ θείου πόθου οὐκ ἔξωθέν ἐστιν ἡ μάθησις· ἀλλ΄ ὁμοῦ τῇ συστάσει τοῦ ζώου τοῦ ἀνθρώπου φημὶ͵ σπερματικός τις λόγος ἡμῖν ἐγκαταβέβληται οἴκοθεν ἔχων τὰς ἀφορμὰς τῆς πρὸς τὸ ἀγαπᾷν οἰκειώσεως. ...

Κυρίως δὲ καλὸν καὶ ἀγαπητὸν τὸ ἀγαθόν. Ἀγαθὸς δὲ ὁ Θεός· ἀγαθοῦ δὲ πάντα ἐφίεται· Θεοῦ ἄρα πάντα ἐφίεται. ... Θεοῦ γὰρ ἀλλοτρίωσις καὶ ἀποστροφὴ καὶ τῶν ἐν γεέννῃ προσδοκωμένων κολάσεων ἀφορητότερόν ἐστι ... 

Cf. ORPHICA : Everything was generated by Love ||| EURIPIDES : To recognise our friends is of God ||| SYMEON THE NEW THEOLOGIAN : Don't put yourself in despair 


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Rule of St. Basil

I

Under the name of Basilians are included all the religious who follow the Rule of St. Basil. The monasteries of such religious have never possessed the hierarchical organization which ordinarily exists in the houses of an order properly so called. Only a few houses were formerly grouped intocongregations or are today so combined. St. Basil drew up his Rule for the members of the monastery he founded about 356 on the banks of the Iris in Cappadocia. Before forming this community St. Basil visited Egypt, Palestine, Coelesyria, and Mesopotamia in order to see for himself the manner of life led by the monks in these countries. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, who shared the retreat, aided Basil by his advice and experience. The Rule of Basil is divided into two parts: the "Greater Monastic Rules" (Regulae fusius tractatae, Migne, P.G., XXXI, 889-1052), and the "Lesser Rules" (Regulae brevius tractatae, ibid., 1051-1306). Rufinus who translated them into Latin united the two into a single Rule under the name of "Regulae sancti Basilii episcopi Cappadociae ad monachos" (P.L., CIII, 483-554); this Rule was followed by some western monasteries. For a long time the Bishop of Caesarea was wrongly held to be the author of a work on monasticism called "Contitutiones monasticae" (P.G., XXXI, 1315-1428). In his Rule St. Basil follows a catechetical method; the disciple asks a question to which the master replies. He limits himself to laying down indisputable principles which will guide the superiors and monks in their conduct. He sends his monks to the Sacred Scriptures; in his eyes the Bible is the basis of all monastic legislation, the true Rule. The questions refer generally to the virtues which the monks should practice and the vices they should avoid. The greater number of the replies contain a verse or several verses of the Bible accompanied by a comment which defines the meaning. The most striking qualities of the Basilian Rule are its prudence and its wisdom. It leaves to the superiors the care of settling the many details of local, individual, and daily life; it does not determine the material exercise of the observance or the administrative regulations of the monastery. Poverty, obedience, renunciation, and self-abnegation are the virtues which St. Basil makes the foundation of the monastic life.

As he gave it, the Rule could not suffice for anyone who wished to organize a monastery, for it takes this work as an accomplished fact. The life of the Cappadocian monks could not be reconstructed from his references to the nature and number of the meals and to the garb of the inmates. The superiors had for guide a tradition accepted by all the monks. This tradition was enriched as time went on by the decisions of councils, by the ordinances of the Emperors of Constantinople, and by the regulations of a number of revered abbots. Thus there arose a body of law by which the monasteries were regulated. Some of these laws were accepted by all, others were observed only by the houses of some one country, while there were regulations which applied only tocertain communities. In this regard Oriental monasticism bears much resemblance to that of the West; a great variety of observances is noticeable. The existence of the Rule of St. Basil formed a principle of unity.

The monasteries of the east

The monasteries of Cappadocia were the first to accept the Rule of St. Basil; it afterwards spread gradually to all the monasteries of the East. Those of Armenia, Chaldea, and of the Syrian countries in general preferred instead of the Rule of St. Basil those observances which were known among them as the Rule of St. Anthony. Neither the ecclesiastical nor the imperial authority was exerted to make conformity to the Basilian Rule universal. It is therefore impossible to tell the epoch at which it acquired the supremacy in the religious communities of the Greek world; but the date is probably an early one. The development of monasticism was, in short, the cause of its diffusion. Protected by the emperors and patriarchs the monasteries increased rapidly in number. In 536 the Diocese of Constantinople contained no less than sixty-eight, that of Chalcedon forty, and these numbers continually increased. Although monasticism was not able to spread in all parts of the empire with equal rapidity, yet what it probably must have been may be inferred from these figures. These monks took an active part in the ecclesiastical life of their time; they had a share in all the quarrels, both theological and other, and were associated with all the works of charity. Their monasteries were places of refuge for studious men. Many of the bishops and patriarchs were chosen from their ranks. Their history is interwoven, therefore, with that of the Oriental Churches. They gave to the preaching of the Gospel its greatest apostles. As a result monastic life gained a footing at the same time as Christianity among all the races won to the Faith. The position of the monks in the empire was one of great power, and their wealth helped to increase their influence. Thus their development ran a course parallel to that of their Western brethren. The monks, as a rule, followed the theological vicissitudes of the emperors and patriarchs, and they showed no notable independence except during the iconoclastic persecution; the stand they took in this aroused the anger of the imperial controversialists. The Faith had its martyrs among them; many of them were condemned to exile, and some took advantage of this condemnation to reorganize their religious life in Italy.

Of all the monasteries of this period the most celebrated was that of St. John the Baptist of Studium, founded at Constantinople in the fifth century. It acquired its fame in the time of the iconoclastic persecution while it was under the government of the saintly Hegumenos (abbot) Theodore, called the Studite. Nowhere did the heretical emperors meet with more courageous resistance. At the same time the monastery was an active center of intellectual and artistic life and a model which exercised considerable influence on monastic observances in the East. Further details may be found in "Prescriptio constitutionis monasterii Studii" (Migne, P.G., XCIX, 1703-20), and the monastery's "Canones de confessione et pro peccatis satisfactione" (ibid., 1721-30). Theodore attributed the observances followed by his monks to his uncle, the saintly Abbot Plato, who first introduced them in his monastery of Saccudium. The other monasteries, one after another adopted them, and they are still followed by the monks of Mount Athos. The monastery of Mount Athos was founded towards the close of the tenth century through the aid of the Emperor Basil the Macedonian and became the largest and most celebrated of all the monasteries of the Orient; it is in reality a monastic province. The monastery of Mount Olympus in Bithynia should also be mentioned, although it was never as important as the other. The monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai, which goes back to the early days of monasticism, had a great fame and is still occupied by monks. Reference to Oriental monks must here be limited to those who have left a mark upon ecclesiastical literature: Leontius of Byzantium (d. 543), author of a treatise against the Nestorians and Eutychians; St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, one of the most vigorous adversaries of the Monothelite heresy (P.G., LXXXVII, 3147-4014); St. Maximus the Confessor, Abbot of Chrysopolis (d. 662), the most brilliant representative of Byzantine monasticism in the seventh century; in his writings and letters St. Maximus steadily combated the partisans of the erroneous doctrines of Monothelitism (ibid., XC and XCI); St. John Damascene, who may perhaps be included among the Basilians; St Theodore the Studite (d. 829), the defender of the veneration of sacred images; his works include theological, ascetic, hagiographical, liturgical, and historical writings (P.G., XCIX). The Byzantine monasteries furnish a long line of historians who were also monks: John Malalas, whose "Monographia" (P.G., XCVII, 9-190) served as a model for Eastern chroniclers Georgius Syncellus, who wrote a "Selected Chronographia"; his friend and disciple Theophanes (d. 817), Abbot of the "Great Field" near Cyzicus, the author of another "Chronographia" (P.G., CVIII); the Patriarch Nicephorus, who wrote (815-829) an historical "Breviarium" (a Byzantine history), and an "Abridged Chronographia" (P.G., C, 879-991); George the Monk, whose Chronicle stops at A.D. 842 (P.G. CX). There were, besides, a large number of monks, hagiographers, hymnologists, and poets who had a large share in the development of the Greek Liturgy. Among the authors of hymns may be mentioned: St. Maximus the Confessor; St. Theodore the Studite; St.Romanus the Melodist; St. Andrew of Crete; St. John Damascene; Cosmas of Jerusalem, and St. Joseph the Hymnographer. Fine penmanship and the copying of manuscripts were held in honor among the Basilians. Among the monasteries which excelled in the art of copying were the Studium, Mount Athos, the monastery of the Isle of Patmos and that of Rossano in Sicily; the tradition was continued later by the monastery of Grottaferrata near Rome. These monasteries, and others as well, were studios of religious art where the monks toiled to produce miniatures in the manuscripts, paintings, and goldsmith work. The triumph of orthodoxy over the iconoclastic heresy infused an extraordinary enthusiasm into this branch of their labors.

From the beginning the Oriental Churches often took their patriarchs and bishops from the monasteries. Later, when the secular clergy was recruited largely from among married men, this custom became almost universal, for, as the episcopal office could not be conferred upon men who were married, it developed, in a way, into a privilege of the religious who had taken the vow of celibacy. Owing to this the monks formed a class apart, corresponding to the upper clergy of the Western Churches; this gave and still gives a preponderating influence to the monasteries themselves. In some of them theological instruction is given both to clerics and to laymen. As long as the spirit of proselytism existed in the East the monasteries furnished the Church with all its missionaries. The names of two have been inscribed by Rome in its calendar of annual feasts, namely, St. Cyril and St. Methodius, the Apostles of the Slavs. The Byzantine schism did not change sensibly the position of the Basilian monks and monasteries. Their sufferings arose through the Mohammedan conquest. To a large number of them this conquest brought complete ruin, especially to those monasteries in what is now Turkey in Asia and the region around Constantinople. In the East the convents for women adopted the Rule of St. Basil and had constitutions copied from those of the Basilian monks.

Schismatic Basilians

The two best known monasteries of the schismatic Basilians are those of Mount Athos and of Mount Sinai. Besides these there are still many monasteries in Turkey in Asia, of which 10 are in Jerusalem alone, 1 at Bethlehem, and 4 at Jericho. They are also numerous on the islands of the Aegean Sea: Chios 3, Samos 6, Crete about 50, Cyprus 11. In Old Cairo is the monastery of St. George. In Greece where there were formerly 400 monasteries, there were, in 1832, only 82, which by 1904 had increased to 169; 9 Basilian convents for women are now in existence in Greece. In Rumania there are 22 monasteries; in Servia 44, with only about 118 monks; in Bulgaria 78, with 193 inmates. Montenegro has 11 monasteries and about 15 monks; Bosnia 3 and Herzegovina 11. In Dalmatia are 11 monasteries and in Bukowina 3. Hungary has 25 monasteries and 5 branch houses. The schismatic monks are much more numerous in Russia; in this country, besides, they have the most influence and possess the richest monasteries. Nowhere else has the monastic life been so closely interwoven with the national existence. The most celebrated monasteries are Pescherskoi at Kieff and Troïtsa at Moscow; mention may also be made of the monasteries of Solovesk, Novgorod, Pskof, Tver, and Vladmir. Russia has about 9,000 monks and 429 monasteries. There is no diocese which has not at least one religious house. The monasteries are divided into those having state subventions and monasteries which do not receive such aid.

Catholic Basilians

A certain number of Basilian monasteries were always in communion with the Holy See. Among these were the houses founded in Sicily and Italy. The monastery of Rossano, founded by St. Nilus the Younger, remained for a long time faithful to the best literary traditions of Constantinople. The monasteries of San Salvatore of Messina and San Salvatore of Otranto may be mentioned; the monastery of Grottaferrata was also celebrated. The emigration of the Greeks to the West after the fall of Constantinople and the union with Rome, concluded at the Council of Florence, gave a certain prestige to these communities. Cardinal Bessarion, who was Abbot of Grottaferrata, sought to stimulate the intellectual life of the Basilians by means of the literary treasures which their libraries contained.

A number of Catholic communities continued to exist in the East. The Holy See caused them to be united into congregations, namely: St. Savior founded in 1715, which includes 8 monasteries and 21 hospices with about 250 monks; the congregation of Aleppo with 4 monasteries and 2 hospices; that of the Baladites (Valadites) with 4 monasteries and 3 hospices. These last two congregations have their houses in the district of Mount Lebanon. St. Josaphat and Father Rutski, who labored to bring back the Ruthenian Churches into Catholic unity, reformed the Basilians of Lithuania. They began with the monastery of the Holy Trinity at Vilna (1607). The monastery of Byten, founded in 1613, was the citadel of the union in Lithuania. Other houses adopted the reform or were founded by the reformed monks. On 19 July, 1617, the reformed monasteries were organized into a congregation under a proto-archimandrite, and known as the congregation of the Holy Trinity, or of Lithuania. The congregation increased with the growth of the union itself. The number of houses had risen to thirty at the time of the general chapter of 1636. After the Council of Zamosc the monasteries outside of Lithuania which had not joined the congregation of the Holy Trinity formed themselves into a congregation bearing the title of "Patrocinium [Protection] B.M.V." (1739). Benedict XIV desired (1744) to form one congregation out of these two, giving the new organization the name of the Ruthenian Order of St. Basil and dividing it into the two provinces of Lithuania and Courland. After the suppression of the Society of Jesus these religious took charge of the Jesuit colleges. The overthrow of Poland and the persecution instituted by the Russians against the Uniat Greeks was very unfavorable to the growth of the congregation, and the number of these Basilian monasteries greatly diminished. Leo XIII, by his Encyclical "Singulare praesidium" of 12 May, 1881, ordained a reform of the Ruthenian Basilians of Galicia. This reform began in the monastery of Dabromil; its members have gradually replaced the non-reformed in the monasteries of the region. They devote themselves, in connection with the Uniat clergy, to the various labors of the apostolate which the moral condition or the different races in this district demands.

Latin Basilians

In the sixteenth century the Italian monasteries of this order were in the last stages of decay. Urged by Cardinal Sirlet, Pope Gregory XIII ordained (1573) their union in a congregation under the control of a superior general. Use was made of the opportunity to separate the revenues of the abbeys from those of the monasteries. The houses of the Italian Basilians were divided into the three provinces of Sicily, Calabria, and Rome. Although the monks remained faithful in principle to the Greek Liturgy they showed an inclination towards the use of the Latin Liturgy; some monasteries have adopted the latter altogether. In Spain there was a Basilian congregation which had no traditional connection with Oriental Basilians; the members followed the Latin Liturgy. Father Bernardo de la Cruz and the hermits of Santa Maria de Oviedo in the Diocese of Jaén formed the nucleus of the congregation. Pope Pius VI added them to the followers of St. Basil and they were affiliated with the monastery of Grottaferrata (1561). The monasteries of Turdon and of Valle de Guillos, founded by Father Mateo de la Fuente, were for a time united with this congregation but they withdrew later in order to form a separate congregation (1603) which increased very little, having only four monasteries and a hospice at Seville. The other Basilians, who followed a less rigorous observance, showed more growth; their monasteries were formed into the two provinces of Castile and Andalusia. They were governed by a vicar general and were under the control, at least nominally, of a superior general of the order. Each of their provinces had its college or scholasticate at Salamanca and Seville. They did not abstain from wine. Like their brethren in Italy they wore a cowl similar to that of the Benedictines; this led to recriminations and processes, but they were authorized by Rome to continue the use of this attire. Several writers are to be found among them, as: Alfonso Clavel, the historiographer of the order; Diego Niceno, who has left sermons and ascetic writings; Luis de los Angelos, who issued a work on, "Instructions for Novices" (Seville, 1615), and also translated into Spanish Cardinal Bessarion's exposition of the Rule of St. Basil; Felipe de la Cruz. who wrote a treatise on money loaned at interest, that was published at Madrid in 1637, and one on tithes, published at Madrid in 1634. The Spanish Basilians were suppressed with the other orders in 1833 and have not been re-established. At Annonay in France a religious community of men was formed (1822) under the Rule of St. Basil, which has a branch at Toronto, Canada (See BASILIANS, PRIESTS OF THE COMMUNITY OF ST. BASIL.)

Sources


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Basilian monk

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For specific Basilian orders, see Basilian.

Basilian monks are monks who follow the "Rule" of Saint Basil the Great, bishop of Caesarea. The chief importance of the monastic rules and institutes of St. Basil lies in the fact that to this day his reconstruction of the monastic life is the basis of most of the monasticism practiced in the Orthodox Churches, as well as some Greek Catholic communities. Saint Benedict of Nursia, who fulfilled much the same function in the West, took his Regula Benedicti from the writings of St. Basil and other earlier church fathers. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, monks do not generally call themselves "Basilians", while the Greek Catholics do. Thus the expression, "Basilian monk" almost always refers to religious of those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite.

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[edit] Rule of St. Basil

Under the name of Basilians are included all the religions that follow the Rules of St. Basil. It should be noted that the "Rules" of St. Basil are not intended to be constitutions like the various Western monastic Rules; rather, it is a collection of his responses to questions about the ascetic life--hence the more accurate original name: Asketikon. There were two such collections, the Greater Asketikon and the Lesser Asketicon (the difference between the two being their length).

Eastern monasticism has never possessed the hierarchical organization which ordinarily constitutes the Western religious orders, properly so called. Only a few houses were formerly grouped into congregations or are today so combined. Usually each monastery follows its own traditions, and is either under the local bishop or is "stavropegial" (directly under the Patriarch or a Synod of bishops).

St. Basil drew up his Asketikon for the members of the monastery he founded about 356 on the banks of the Iris River in Cappadocia. St Basil's claim to the authorship of the Rules and other ascetical writings that go under his name has been questioned. But the tendency now is to recognize as his at any rate the two sets of Rules. Probably the truest idea of his monastic system may be derived from a correspondence between him and St. Gregory Nazianzen at the beginning of his monastic life. Before forming this community St. Basil visited Egypt, Coele-Syria, Mesopotamia, and Palestine in order to see for himself the manner of life led by the monks in these countries. In the latter country and in Syria the monastic life tended to become more and more eremitical and to run to great extravagances in the matter of bodily austerities. When Basil formed his monastery in the neighborhood of Neocaesarea in Pontus, he deliberately set himself against these tendencies. He declared that the cenobitical life is superior to the eremitical; that fasting and austerities should not interfere with prayer or work; that work should form an integral part of the monastic life, not merely as an occupation, but for its own sake and in order to do good to others; and therefore that monasteries should be near towns. All this was a new departure in monachism.

The Rule of Basil is divided into two parts: the "Greater Monastic Rules"[1] and the "Lesser Rules".[2] Rufinus who translated them into Latin united the two into a single Rule under the name of Regulae sancti Basilii episcopi Cappadociae ad monachos; this Rule was followed by some Western monasteries. For a long time the Bishop of Caesarea was wrongly held to be the author of a work on monasticism called Contitutiones monasticae In his Rule St. Basil follows a catechetical method; the disciple asks a question to which the master replies. He limits himself to laying down indisputable principles which will guide the superiors and monks in their conduct. He sends his monks to the Sacred Scriptures; in his eyes the Bible is the basis of all monastic legislation, the true Rule. The questions refer generally to the virtues which the monks should practice and the vices they should avoid. The greater number of the replies contain a verse or several verses of the Bible accompanied by a comment which defines the meaning. The most striking qualities of the Basilian Rule are its prudence and its wisdom. It leaves to the superiors the care of settling the many details of local, individual, and daily life; it does not determine the material exercise of the observance or the administrative regulations of the monastery. Poverty, obedience, renunciation, and self-abnegation are the virtues which St. Basil makes the foundation of the monastic life.

As he gave it, the Rule could not suffice for anyone who wished to organize a monastery, for it takes this work as an accomplished fact. The life of the Cappadocian monks could not be reconstructed from his references to the nature and number of the meals and to the garb of the inmates. The superiors had for guide a tradition accepted by all the monks. This tradition was enriched as time went on by the decisions of councils, by the ordinances of the Emperors of Constantinople, and by the regulations of a number of revered abbots. Thus there arose a body of law by which the monasteries were regulated. Some of these laws were accepted by all, others were observed only by the houses of some one country, while there were regulations which applied only to certain communities. In this regard Oriental monasticism bears much resemblance to that of the West; a great variety of observances is noticeable. The existence of the Rule of St. Basil formed a principle of unity.

St Basil's influence, and the greater suitability of his institute to European ideas, ensured the propagation of Basilian monachism; and Sozomen says that in Cappadocia and the neighboring provinces there were no hermits hut only cenobites. However, the eastern hankering after the eremitical life long survived, and it was only by dint of legislation, both ecclesiastical (council of Chalcedon) and civil (Justinian Code), that the Basilian cenobitic form of monasticism came to prevail throughout the Greek-speaking lands, though the eremitical forms have always maintained themselves.

Greek monachism underwent no development or change for four centuries, except the vicissitudes inevitable in all things human, which in monasticism assume the form of alternations of relaxation and revival. The second half of the 8th century seems to have been a time of very general decadence; but about the year 800 Theodore, destined to be the only other creative name in Greek monachism, became abbot of the monastery of the Studium in Constantinople. He set himself to reform his monastery and restore St. Basil's spirit in its primitive vigour. But to effect this, and to give permanence to the reformation, he saw that there was need of a more practical code of laws to regulate the details of the daily life, as a supplement to St Basil's Rules. He therefore drew up constitutions, afterwards codified, which became the norm of the life at the Studium monastery, and gradually spread thence to the monasteries of the rest of the Greek empire. Thus to this day the Rules of Basil and the Constitutions of Theodore the Studite, along with the canons of the Councils, constitute the chief part of Greek and Russian monastic law.

[edit] Monasteries in the Middle East and Anatolia

The monasteries of Cappadocia were the first to accept the Rule of St. Basil; it afterwards spread gradually to all the monasteries of the East. Those of Armenia, Chaldea, and of the Syrian countries in general preferred instead of the Rule of St. Basil those observances which were known among them as the Rule of St. Anthony. Neither the ecclesiastical nor the imperial authority was exerted to make conformity to the Basilian Rule universal. It is therefore impossible to tell the epoch at which it acquired the supremacy in the religious communities of the Greek world; but the date is probably an early one. The development of monasticism was, in short, the cause of its diffusion. Protected by the emperors and patriarchs the monasteries increased rapidly in number. In 536 the Diocese of Constantinople contained no less than sixty-eight, that of Chalcedon forty, and these numbers continually increased. Although monasticism was not able to spread in all parts of the empire with equal rapidity, yet what it probably must have been may be inferred from these figures. These monks took an active part in the ecclesiastical life of their time; they had a share in all the quarrels, both theological and other, and were associated with all the works of charity. Their monasteries were places of refuge for studious men. Many of the bishops and patriarchs were chosen from their ranks. Their history is interwoven, therefore, with that of the Oriental Churches. They gave to the preaching of the Gospel its greatest apostles. As a result monastic life gained a footing at the same time as Christianity among all the races won to the Faith. The position of the monks in the empire was one of great power, and their wealth helped to increase their influence. Thus their development ran a course parallel to that of their Western brethren. The monks, as a rule, followed the theological vicissitudes of the emperors and patriarchs, and they showed no notable independence except during the iconoclastic persecution; the stand they took in this aroused the anger of the imperial controversialists. The Faith had its martyrs among them; many of them were condemned to exile, and some took advantage of this condemnation to reorganize their religious life in Italy.

Of all the monasteries of this period the most celebrated was that of St. John the Baptist of Studium, founded at Constantinople in the fifth century. It acquired its fame in the time of the iconoclastic persecution while it was under the government of the saintly Hegumenos (abbot) Theodore, called the Studite. Nowhere did the heretical emperors meet with more courageous resistance. At the same time the monastery was an active center of intellectual and artistic life and a model which exercised considerable influence on monastic observances in the East. Further details may be found in "Prescriptio constitutionis monasterii Studii" (Migne, P.G., XCIX, 1703-20), and the monastery's "Canones de confessione et pro peccatis satisfactione " (ibid., 1721-30). Theodore attributed the observances followed by his monks to his uncle, the saintly Abbot Plato, who first introduced them in his monastery of Saccudium. The other monasteries, one after another adopted them, and they are still followed by the monks of Mount Athos. The monastery of Mount Athos was founded towards the close of the 10th century through the aid of the Emperor Basil the Macedonian and became the largest and most celebrated of all the monasteries of the Orient; it is in reality a monastic province. The monastery of Mount Olympus in Bithynia should also be mentioned, although it was never as important as the other. The monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai, which goes back to the early days of monasticism, had a great fame and is still occupied by monks. Reference to Oriental monks must here be limited to those who have left a mark upon ecclesiastical literature: Leontius of Byzantium (d. 543), author of a treatise against the Nestorians and Eutychians; St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, one of the most vigorous adversaries of the Monothelite heresy (P.G., LXXXVII, 3147-4014); St. Maximus the Confessor, Abbot of Chrysopolis (d. 662), the most brilliant representative of Byzantine monasticism in the seventh century; in his writings and letters St. Maximus steadily combated the partisans of the erroneous doctrines of Monothelitism (ibid., XC and XCI); St. John Damascene, who may perhaps be included among the Basilians; St Theodore the Studite (d. 829), the defender of the veneration of sacred images; his works include theological, ascetic, hagiographical, liturgical, and historical writings (P.G., XCIX). The Byzantine monasteries furnish a long line of historians who were also monks: John Malalas, whose " hronographia" (P.G., XCVII, 9-190) served as a model for Eastern chroniclers; Georgius Syncellus, who wrote a "Selected Chronographia"; his friend and disciple Theophanes (d. 817), Abbot of the "Great Field" near Cyzicus, the author of another "Chronographia" (P.G., CVIII); the Patriarch Nicephorus, who wrote (815-829) an historical "Breviarium" (a Byzantine history), and an "Abridged Chronographia" (P.G., C, 879-991); George the Monk, whose Chronicle stops at A. D. 842 (P.G. CX). There were, besides, a large number of monks, hagiographers, hymnologists, and poets who had a large share in the development of the Greek Liturgy. Among the authors of hymns may be mentioned: St. Maximus the Confessor; St. Theodore the Studite; St. Romanus the Melodist; St. Andrew of Crete; St. John Damascene; Cosmas of Jerusalem, and St. Joseph the Hymnographer. Fine penmanship and the copying of manuscripts were held in honor among the Basilians. Among the monasteries which excelled in the art of copying were the Studium, Mount Athos, the monastery of the Isle of Patmos and that of Rossano in Sicily; the tradition was continued later by the monastery of Grottaferrata near Rome. These monasteries, and others as well, were studios of religious art where the monks toiled to produce miniatures in the manuscripts, paintings, and goldsmith work. The triumph of orthodoxy over the iconoclastic heresy infused an extraordinary enthusiasm into this branch of their labors.

From the beginning the Oriental Churches often took their patriarchs and bishops from the monasteries. Later, when the secular clergy was recruited largely from among married men, this custom became almost universal, for, as the episcopal office could not be conferred upon men who were married, it developed, in a way, into a privilege of the religious who had taken the vow of celibacy. Owing to this the monks formed a class apart, corresponding to the upper clergy of the Western Churches; this gave and still gives a preponderating influence to the monasteries themselves. In some of them theological instruction is given both to clerics and to laymen. As long as the spirit of proselytism existed in the East the monasteries furnished the Church with all its missionaries. The names of two have been inscribed by Rome in its calendar of annual feasts, namely,St. Cyril and St. Methodius, the Apostles of the Slavs. The Byzantine schism did not change sensibly the position of the Basilian monks and monasteries. Their sufferings arose through the Muslim conquest. To a large number of them this conquest brought complete ruin, especially to those monasteries in what is now Turkey in Asia and the region around Constantinople. In the East the convents for women adopted the Rule of St. Basil and had constitutions copied from those of the Basilian monks.

[edit] Catholic Basilians

After the Great Schism most Basilian monasteries became a part of the Eastern Orthodox Church, however some Basilian monasteries which were in Italy remained in the Western Church.

The monastery of Rossano, founded by St. Nilus the Younger, remained for a long time faithful to the best literary traditions of Constantinople. The monasteries of San Salvatore of Messina and San Salvatore of Otranto may be mentioned; the monastery of Grottaferrata was also celebrated. The emigration of the Greeks to the West after the fall of Constantinople and the union with Rome, concluded at the Council of Florence, gave a certain prestige to these communities. Cardinal Bessarion, who was Abbot of Grottaferrata, sought to stimulate the intellectual life of the Basilians by means of the literary treasures which their libraries contained.

A number of Roman Catholic communities continued to exist in the East. The Holy See caused them to be united into congregations, namely: the Congregation of St. Savior founded in 1715, which includes 8 monasteries and 21 hospices with about 250 monks; the Congregation of Aleppo with 4 monasteries and 2 hospices; the Congregation of the Baladites (Valadites) with 4 monasteries and 3 hospices. These last two congregations have their houses in the district of Mount Lebanon. Saint Josaphat Kuntsevych and Father Rutski, who labored to bring back the Ruthenian Churches into Catholic unity, reformed the Ruthenian Basilians forming the Order of Saint Basil the Great.

[edit] Latin Basilians

In the sixteenth century the Italian monasteries of the Basilian Order were in the last stages of decay. Urged by Cardinal Sirlet, Pope Gregory XIII ordained (1573) their union in a congregation under the control of a superior general. Use was made of the opportunity to separate the revenues of the abbeys from those of the monasteries. The houses of the Italian Basilians were divided into the three provinces of Sicily, Calabria, and Rome.

Although the monks remained faithful in principle to the Greek Liturgy they showed an inclination towards the use of the Latin Liturgy; some monasteries have adopted the latter altogether. In Spain there was a Basilian congregation which had no traditional connection with Oriental Basilians; the members followed the Latin Liturgy. Father Bernardo de la Cruz and the hermits of Santa Maria de Oviedo in the Diocese of Jaen formed the nucleus of the congregation.

Pope Pius VI added them to the followers of St. Basil and they were affiliated with the monastery of Grottaferrata (1561). The monasteries of Tardón and of San Antonio del Valle de Galleguillos, founded by Father Mateo de la Fuente, were for a time united with this congregation but they withdrew later in order to form a separate congregation (1603) which increased very little, having only four monasteries and a hospice at Seville.

The other Basilians, who followed a less rigorous observance, showed more growth; their monasteries were formed into the two provinces of Castile and Andalusia. They were governed by a vicar general and were under the control, at least nominally, of a superior general of the order. Each of their provinces had its college or scholasticate at Salamanca and Seville.

They did not abstain from wine. Like their brethren in Italy they wore a cowl similar to that of the Benedictines; this led to recriminations and processes, but they were authorized by Rome to continue the use of this attire.

Several writers are to be found among them, as: Alfonso Clavel, the historiographer of the order; Diego Niceno, who has left sermons and ascetic writings; Luis de los Angelos, who issued a work on, "Instructions for Novices" (Seville, 1615), and also translated into Spanish Cardinal Bessarion's exposition of the Rule of St. Basil; Felipe de la Cruz, who wrote a treatise on money loaned at interest, that was published at Madrid in 1637, and one on tithes, published at Madrid in 1634. The Spanish Basilians were suppressed with the other orders in 1835 and have not been re-established.

The Congregation of St. Basil was formed in Annonay in France (1822) under the Rule of St. Basil, which has a branch at Toronto, Canada.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Regulae fusius tractatae, Migne, Patrologia Graecae (P.G.), XXXI, 889-1052
  2. ^ Regulae brevius tractatae, ibid., 1051-1306

[edit] See also



Rule of St. Basil

From the Catholic Encyclopedia

I.

Under the name of Basilians are included all the religious who follow the Rule of St. Basil. The monasteries of such religious have never possessed the hierarchical organization which ordinarily exists in the houses of an order properly so called. Only a few houses were formerly grouped into congregations or are today so combined. St. Basil drew up his Rule for the members of the monastery he founded about 356 on the banks of the Iris in Cappadocia. Before forming this community St. Basil visited Egypt, Palestine, Coelesyria, and Mesopotamia in order to see for himself the manner of life led by the monks in these countries. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, who shared the retreat, aided Basil by his advice and experience. The Rule of Basil is divided into two parts: the "Greater Monastic Rules" (Regulae fusius tractatae, Migne, P.G., XXXI, 889-1052), and the "Lesser Rules" (Regulae brevius tractatae, ibid., 1051-1306). Rufinus who translated them into Latin united the two into a single Rule under the name of "Regulae sancti Basilii episcopi Cappadociae ad monachos" (P.L., CIII, 483-554); this Rule was followed by some western monasteries. For a long time the Bishop of Caesarea was wrongly held to be the author of a work on monasticism called "Contitutiones monasticae" (P.G., XXXI, 1315-1428). In his Rule St. Basil follows a catechetical method; the disciple asks a question to which the master replies. He limits himself to laying down indisputable principles which will guide the superiors and monks in their conduct. He sends his monks to the Sacred Scriptures; in his eyes the Bible is the basis of all monastic legislation, the true Rule. The questions refer generally to the virtues which the monks should practice and the vices they should avoid. The greater number of the replies contain a verse or several verses of the Bible accompanied by a comment which defines the meaning. The most striking qualities of the Basilian Rule are its prudence and its wisdom. It leaves to the superiors the care of settling the many details of local, individual, and daily life; it does not determine the material exercise of the observance or the administrative regulations of the monastery. Poverty, obedience, renunciation, and self-abnegation are the virtues which St. Basil makes the foundation of the monastic life.

As he gave it, the Rule could not suffice for anyone who wished to organize a monastery, for it takes this work as an accomplished fact. The life of the Cappadocian monks could not be reconstructed from his references to the nature and number of the meals and to the garb of the inmates. The superiors had for guide a tradition accepted by all the monks. This tradition was enriched as time went on by the decisions of councils, by the ordinances of the Emperors of Constantinople, and by the regulations of a number of revered abbots. Thus there arose a body of law by which the monasteries were regulated. Some of these laws were accepted by all, others were observed only by the houses of some one country, while there were regulations which applied only to certain communities. In this regard Oriental monasticism bears much resemblance to that of the West; a great variety of observances is noticeable. The existence of the Rule of St. Basil formed a principle of unity.

II. THE MONASTERIES OF THE EAST

The monasteries of Cappadocia were the first to accept the Rule of St. Basil; it afterwards spread gradually to all the monasteries of the East. Those of Armenia, Chaldea, and of the Syrian countries in general preferred instead of the Rule of St. Basil those observances which were known among them as the Rule of St. Anthony. Neither the ecclesiastical nor the imperial authority was exerted to make conformity to the Basilian Rule universal. It is therefore impossible to tell the epoch at which it acquired the supremacy in the religious communities of the Greek world; but the date is probably an early one. The development of monasticism was, in short, the cause of its diffusion. Protected by the emperors and patriarchs the monasteries increased rapidly in number. In 536 the Diocese of Constantinople contained no less than sixty-eight, that of Chalcedon forty, and these numbers continually increased. Although monasticism was not able to spread in all parts of the empire with equal rapidity, yet what it probably must have been may be inferred from these figures. These monks took an active part in the ecclesiastical life of their time; they had a share in all the quarrels, both theological and other, and were associated with all the works of charity. Their monasteries were places of refuge for studious men. Many of the bishops and patriarchs were chosen from their ranks. Their history is interwoven, therefore, with that of the Oriental Churches. They gave to the preaching of the Gospel its greatest apostles. As a result monastic life gained a footing at the same time as Christianity among all the races won to the Faith. The position of the monks in the empire was one of great power, and their wealth helped to increase their influence. Thus their development ran a course parallel to that of their Western brethren. The monks, as a rule, followed the theological vicissitudes of the emperors and patriarchs, and they showed no notable independence except during the iconoclastic persecution; the stand they took in this aroused the anger of the imperial controversialists. The Faith had its martyrs among them; many of them were condemned to exile, and some took advantage of this condemnation to reorganize their religious life in Italy.

Of all the monasteries of this period the most celebrated was that of St. John the Baptist of Studium, founded at Constantinople in the fifth century. It acquired its fame in the time of the iconoclastic persecution while it was under the government of the saintly Hegumenos (abbot) Theodore, called the Studite. Nowhere did the heretical emperors meet with more courageous resistance. At the same time the monastery was an active center of intellectual and artistic life and a model which exercised considerable influence on monastic observances in the East. Further details may be found in "Prescriptio constitutionis monasterii Studii" (Migne, P.G., XCIX, 1703-20), and the monastery's "Canones de confessione et pro peccatis satisfactione " (ibid., 1721-30). Theodore attributed the observances followed by his monks to his uncle, the saintly Abbot Plato, who first introduced them in his monastery of Saccudium. The other monasteries, one after another adopted them, and they are still followed by the monks of Mount Athos. The monastery of Mount Athos was founded towards the close of the tenth century through the aid of the Emperor Basil the Macedonian and became the largest and most celebrated of all the monasteries of the Orient; it is in reality a monastic province. The monastery of Mount Olympus in Bithynia should also be mentioned, although it was never as important as the other. The monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai, which goes back to the early days of monasticism, had a great fame and is still occupied by monks. Reference to Oriental monks must here be limited to those who have left a mark upon ecclesiastical literature: Leontius of Byzantium (d. 543), author of a treatise against the Nestorians and Eutychians; St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, one of the most vigorous adversaries of the Monothelite heresy (P.G., LXXXVII, 3147-4014); St. Maximus the Confessor, Abbot of Chrysopolis (d. 662), the most brilliant representative of Byzantine monasticism in the seventh century; in his writings and letters St. Maximus steadily combated the partisans of the erroneous doctrines of Monothelitism (ibid., XC and XCI); St. John Damascene, who may perhaps be included among the Basilians; St Theodore the Studite (d. 829), the defender of the veneration of sacred images; his works include theological, ascetic, hagiographical, liturgical, and historical writings (P.G., XCIX). The Byzantine monasteries furnish a long line of historians who were also monks: John Malalas, whose " hronographia" (P.G., XCVII, 9-190) served as a model for Eastern chroniclers Georgius Syncellus, who wrote a "Selected Chronographia"; his friend and disciple Theophanes (d. 817), Abbot of the "Great Field" near Cyzicus, the author of another "Chronographia" (P.G., CVIII); the Patriarch Nicephorus, who wrote (815-829) an historical "Breviarium" (a Byzantine history), and an "Abridged Chronographia" (P.G., C, 879-991); George the Monk, whose Chronicle stops at A. D. 842 (P.G. CX). There were, besides, a large number of monks, hagiographers, hymnologists, and poets who had a large share in the development of the Greek Liturgy. Among the authors of hymns may be mentioned: St. Maximus the Confessor; St. Theodore the Studite; St. Romanus the Melodist; St. Andrew of Crete; St. John Damascene; Cosmas of Jerusalem, and St. Joseph the Hymnographer. Fine penmanship and the copying of manuscripts were held in honor among the Basilians. Among the monasteries which excelled in the art of copying were the Studium, Mount Athos, the monastery of the Isle of Patmos and that of Rossano in Sicily; the tradition was continued later by the monastery of Grottaferrata near Rome. These monasteries, and others as well, were studios of religious art where the monks toiled to produce miniatures in the manuscripts, paintings, and goldsmith work. The triumph of orthodoxy over the iconoclastic heresy infused an extraordinary enthusiasm into this branch of their labors.

From the beginning the Oriental Churches often took their patriarchs and bishops from the monasteries. Later, when the secular clergy was recruited largely from among married men, this custom became almost universal, for, as the episcopal office could not be conferred upon men who were married, it developed, in a way, into a privilege of the religious who had taken the vow of celibacy. Owing to this the monks formed a class apart, corresponding to the upper clergy of the Western Churches; this gave and still gives a preponderating influence to the monasteries themselves. In some of them theological instruction is given both to clerics and to laymen. As long as the spirit of proselytism existed in the East the monasteries furnished the Church with all its missionaries. The names of two have been inscribed by Rome in its calendar of annual feasts, namely, St. Cyril and St. Methodius, the Apostles of the Slavs. The Byzantine schism did not change sensibly the position of the Basilian monks and monasteries. Their sufferings arose through the Mohammedan conquest. To a large number of them this conquest brought complete ruin, especially to those monasteries in what is now Turkey in Asia and the region around Constantinople. In the East the convents for women adopted the Rule of St. Basil and had constitutions copied from those of the Basilian monks.

III. SCHISMATIC BASILIANS

The two best known monasteries of the schismatic Basilians are those of Mount Athos and of Mount Sinai. Besides these there are still many monasteries in Turkey in Asia, of which 10 are in Jerusalem alone, 1 at Bethlehem, and 4 at Jericho. They are also numerous on the islands of the Aegean Sea: Chios 3, Samos 6, Crete about 50, Cyprus 11. In Old Cairo is the monastery of St. George. In Greece where there were formerly 400 monasteries, there were, in 1832, only 82, which by 1904 had increased to 169; 9 Basilian convents for women are now in existence in Greece. In Rumania there are 22 monasteries; in Servia 44, with only about 118 monks; in Bulgaria 78, with 193 inmates. Montenegro has 11 monasteries and about 15 monks; Bosnia 3 and Herzegovina 11. In Dalmatia are 11 monasteries and in Bukowina 3. Hungary has 25 monasteries and 5 branch houses. The schismatic monks are much more numerous in Russia; in this country, besides, they have the most influence and possess the richest monasteries. Nowhere else has the monastic life been so closely interwoven with the national existence. The most celebrated monasteries are Pescherskoi at Kieff and Troïtsa at Moscow; mention may also be made of the monasteries of Solovesk, Novgorod, Pskof, Tver, and Vladmir. Russia has about 9,000 monks and 429 monasteries. There is no diocese which has not at least one religious house. The monasteries are divided into those having state subventions and monasteries which do not receive such aid.

IV. CATHOLIC BASILIANS

A certain number of Basilian monasteries were always in communion with the Holy See. Among these were the houses founded in Sicily and Italy. The monastery of Rossano, founded by St. Nilus the Younger, remained for a long time faithful to the best literary traditions of Constantinople. The monasteries of San Salvatore of Messina and San Salvatore of Otranto may be mentioned; the monastery of Grottaferrata was also celebrated. The emigration of the Greeks to the West after the fall of Constantinople and the union with Rome, concluded at the Council of Florence, gave a certain prestige to these communities. Cardinal Bessarion, who was Abbot of Grottaferrata, sought to stimulate the intellectual life of the Basilians by means of the literary treasures which their libraries contained.

A number of Catholic communities continued to exist in the East. The Holy See caused them to be united into congregations, namely: St. Savior founded in 1715, which includes 8 monasteries and 21 hospices with about 250 monks; the congregation of Aleppo with 4 monasteries and 2 hospices; that of the Baladites (Valadites) with 4 monasteries and 3 hospices. These last two congregations have their houses in the district of Mount Lebanon. St. Josaphat and Father Rutski, who labored to bring back the Ruthenian Churches into Catholic unity, reformed the Basilians of Lithuania. They began with the monastery of the Holy Trinity at Vilna (1607). The monastery of Byten, founded in 1613, was the citadel of the union in Lithuania. Other houses adopted the reform or were founded by the reformed monks. On 19 July, 1617, the reformed monasteries were organized into a congregation under a proto-archimandrite, and known as the congregation of the Holy Trinity, or of Lithuania. The congregation increased with the growth of the union itself. The number of houses had risen to thirty at the time of the general chapter of 1636. After the Council of Zamosc the monasteries outside of Lithuania which had not joined the congregation of the Holy Trinity formed themselves into a congregation bearing the title of "Patrocinium [Protection] B.M.V." (1739). Benedict XIV desired (1744) to form one congregation out of these two, giving the new organization the name of the Ruthenian Order of St. Basil and dividing it into the two provinces of Lithuania and Courland. After the suppression of the Society of Jesus these religious took charge of the Jesuit colleges. The overthrow of Poland and the persecution instituted by the Russians against the Uniat Greeks was very unfavorable to the growth of the congregation, and the number of these Basilian monasteries greatly diminished. Leo XIII, by his Encyclical "Singulare praesidium" of 12 May, 1881, ordained a reform of the Ruthenian Basilians of Galicia. This reform began in the monastery of Dabromil; its members have gradually replaced the non-reformed in the monasteries of the region. They devote themselves, in connection with the Uniat clergy, to the various labors of the apostolate which the moral condition or the different races in this district demands.

V. LATIN BASILIANS

In the sixteenth century the Italian monasteries of this order were in the last stages of decay. Urged by Cardinal Sirlet, Pope Gregory XIII ordained (1573) their union in a congregation under the control of a superior general. Use was made of the opportunity to separate the revenues of the abbeys from those of the monasteries. The houses of the Italian Basilians were divided into the three provinces of Sicily, Calabria, and Rome. Although the monks remained faithful in principle to the Greek Liturgy they showed an inclination towards the use of the Latin Liturgy; some monasteries have adopted the latter altogether. In Spain there was a Basilian congregation which had no traditional connection with Oriental Basilians; the members followed the Latin Liturgy. Father Bernardo de la Cruz and the hermits of Santa Maria de Oviedo in the Diocese of Jaen formed the nucleus of the congregation. Pope Pius VI added them to the followers of St. Basil and they were affiliated with the monastery of Grottaferrata (1561). The monasteries of Turdon and of Valle de Guillos, founded by Father Mateo de la Fuente, were for a time united with this congregation but they withdrew later in order to form a separate congregation (1603) which increased very little, having only four monasteries and a hospice at Seville. The other Basilians, who followed a less rigorous observance, showed more growth; their monasteries were formed into the two provinces of Castile and Andalusia. They were governed by a vicar general and were under the control, at least nominally, of a superior general of the order. Each of their provinces had its college or scholasticate at Salamanca and Seville. They did not abstain from wine. Like their brethren in Italy they wore a cowl similar to that of the Benedictines; this led to recriminations and processes, but they were authorized by Rome to continue the use of this attire. Several writers are to be found among them, as: Alfonso Clavel, the historiographer of the order; Diego Niceno, who has left sermons and ascetic writings; Luis de los Angelos, who issued a work on, "Instructions for Novices" (Seville, 1615), and also translated into Spanish Cardinal Bessarion's exposition of the Rule of St. Basil; Felipe de la Cruz. who wrote a treatise on money loaned at interest, that was published at Madrid in 1637, and one on tithes, published at Madrid in 1634. The Spanish Basilians were suppressed with the other orders in 1833 and have not been re-established. At Annonay in France a religious community of men was formed (1822) under the Rule of St. Basil, which has a branch at Toronto, Canada (See BASILIANS, PRIESTS OF THE COMMUNITY OF ST. BASIL.)

BESSE, Les moines d'Orient (Paris, 1900); MARTIN, Les moines de Constantinople (Paris, 1897), GUÉPIN, Un apótre de l'union des églises au XVIIe siècle, St. Josaphat (Paris, 1897); LEROY-BEAULIEU La religion in L'empire des Tsars et les Rusees (Paris, 1889) III; CLAVEL, Antigüedad de la religión y regla de san Basilio (Madrid, 1645); HÉLYOT, Histoire des ordres monastiques, I; HEIMBUCHER, Die Orden and Kongregationen, I, 44-47; MINIASI, San Nilo (Naples, 1892); RODOTÀ, Origine, progresso e stato attuale del rito greco in Italia (Rome, 1755); SILBERNAGL-SCHNITZER, Verfassung, etc., in Kirchen des Orients (Munich, 1905); MILASCH-PESSIC, Kirchenrecht d. morgene. Kirche (2nd ed., Mostar, 1905).

J.M. BESSE

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Basil of Caesarea

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For other persons named Saint Basil, see Saint Basil (disambiguation).
Saint Basil the Great
St. Basil depicted on the left, mass of St. Basil by Pierre Subleyras
Bishop, Confessor and Doctor of the Church; Great Hierarch
Born ca. 335, Caesarea, Cappadocia,
Died January 1, 379[1], Caesarea, Cappadocia, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey)
Venerated in Eastern and Western Christianity
Canonized Pre-Congregation
Feast January 1 and January 30 (Eastern Orthodox Churches)
January 2 (Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Church and Lutheran Church)
January 15 / January 16 (leap year) (Coptic Orthodox Church and Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church)
June 14 (Traditional Roman Catholics, Episcopal Church, and Lutheran Church)
Attributes vested as bishop, wearing omophorion, holding a Gospel Book or scroll. St. Basil is depicted in icons as thin and ascetic with a long, tapering black beard.
Patronage Cappadocia, Hospital administrators, Reformers, Monks, Education, Exorcism, Liturgists

Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great, (330[2] – January 1, 379) (Greek: Άγιος Βασίλειος ο Μέγας) was the bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). He was an influential 4th century Christian theologian and monastic. Theologically, Basil was a supporter of the Nicene faction of the church, in opposition to Arianism on one side and the followers of Apollinaris of Laodicea on the other. 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 labor. 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, while the Roman Catholic Church has named him a Doctor of the Church. He is also referred to as "the revealer of heavenly mysteries" (Ouranophantor).[3]

Contents

[hide]

[edit] Life

[edit] Early life and education

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,[4] and Emmelia of Caesarea around 330 in Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia[5] (now known as Kayseri, Turkey). It was a large household, consisting of ten children, the parents, and Basil's grandmother, Macrina the Elder. His parents were known for their piety,[6] and his maternal grandfather was a Christian martyr, executed in the years prior to Constantine I's conversion.[7][8] Four of Basil's siblings are known by name, and considered to be saints by various Christian traditions. His older sister Macrina the Younger was a well-known nun. His older brother Peter served as bishop of Sebaste in Armenia, and wrote a few well-known theological treatises. His brother Naucratius was an anchorite, and inspired much of Basil's theological work. Perhaps the most influential of Basil's siblings was his younger brother Gregory. Gregory was appointed by Basil to be the bishop of Nyssa, and he produced a number of writings defending Nicene theology and describing the life of early Christian monastics.

Shortly after Basil's birth, the family moved to the estate of his grandmother Macrina, in the region of Pontus. There, Basil was educated in the home by his father and grandmother. He was greatly influenced by the elder Macrina, who herself was a student of Gregory Thaumaturgus.[9] Following the death of his father during his teenage years, Basil returned to Caesarea in Cappadocia around 350-51 to begin his formal education.[10] There he met Gregory of Nazianzus, who would become a lifetime friend.[11] 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.[12][13] It was at Athens that he began to first think about living a life focused on Christian principles.

Returning from Athens around 355, Basil briefly practiced law and taught rhetoric in Caesarea.[14][15] A year later, Basil's life would change radically after he encountered Eustathius of Sebaste, a charismatic bishop and ascetic.[16]

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.[17]

[edit] Arnesi

Russian icon of Basil of Caesarea

After receiving the sacrament of baptism, Basil traveled in 357 to Palestine, Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia to study ascetics and monasticism.[18][19] While impressed by the piety of the ascetics, the ideal of solitary life held little appeal to him.[20] Rather, he turned his attention toward communal religious life. After dividing his fortunes among the poor he went briefly into solitude near Neocaesaria on the Iris.[18] Basil soon ventured out of this solitude, and by 358 he was gathering around him a group of like-minded disciples, including his brother Peter. Together they founded a monastic settlement on his family estate at Arnesi in Pontus.[21] Joining him there were his mother Emmelia, then widowed, his sister Macrina and several other women, gave themselves to a pious life of prayer and charitable works. Eustathius of Sebaste had already labored in Pontus in behalf of the anchoretic life, and Basil revered him on that account, although they differed over dogmatic points, which gradually separated the two.[22]

It was here that Basil wrote his works regarding monastic communal life, which are accounted as being pivotal in the development of the monastic tradition of the Eastern Church and have led to his being called the "father of Eastern communal monasticism".[23][14] In 358 he wrote to his friend, Gregory of Nazianzus, asking Gregory to join him in Arnesi.[24] Gregory eventually agreed to come; together, they collaborated on the production of the Philocalia, an anthology drawn from Origen.[14][25] Gregory then decided to return to his family in Nazianzus.

Basil attended the Council of Constantinople in 360. It was here that he first sided with the Homoiousians, a semi-Arian faction who taught that the Son was of like substance with the Father, neither the same (one substance) nor different from him.[26] Its members included Eustathius, Basil's mentor in asceticism. The Homoiousians opposed the Arianism of Eunomius but refused to join with the supporters of the Nicene Creed, who professed that the members of the Trinity were of one substance ("homoousios"). This stance put him at odds with his bishop, Dianius of Caesarea, who had subscribed only to the earlier Nicene form of agreement. Some years later Basil abandoned the Homoiousians, emerging instead as a supporter of the Nicene Creed.[26]

[edit] Caesarea

Icon of the Three Holy Hierarchs: Basil the Great (left), John Chrysostom (center) and Gregory the Theologian (right)—from Lipie, Historic Museum in Sanok, Poland.

In 362 Basil was ordained a deacon by Bishop Meletius of Antioch. He was summoned by Eusebius to his city, and was ordained presbyter of the Church there in 365. His ordination was probably the result of the entreaties of his ecclesiastical superiors,[18] who wished to use his talents against the Arians, who were numerous in that part of the country and were favored by the Arian emperor, Valens, who then reigned in Constantinople.[citation needed]

Basil and Gregory Nazianzus spent the next few years combating the Arian heresy, which threatened to divide the region of Cappadocia. The two friends then entered a period of close fraternal cooperation as they participated in a great rhetorical contest of the Caesarean church precipitated by the arrival of accomplished Arian theologians and rhetors.[27] In the subsequent public debates, presided over by agents of Valens, Gregory and Basil emerged triumphant. This success confirmed for both Gregory and Basil that their futures lay in administration of the church.[27] Basil next took on functional administration of the Diocese of Caesarea.[23]Eusebius is reported as becoming jealous of the reputation and influence which Basil quickly developed, and allowed Basil to return to his earlier solitude. Later, however, Gregory persuaded Basil to return. Basil did so, and became the effective manager of the diocese for several years, while giving all the credit to Eusebius.[14]

In 370, Eusebius died, and Basil was chosen to succeed him, and was consecrated bishop on June 14, 370.[28] His new post as bishop of Caesarea also gave him the powers of exarch of Pontus and metropolitan of five suffragan bishops, many of whom had opposed him in the election for Eusebius's successor. It was then that his great powers were called into action. Hot-blooded and somewhat imperious, Basil was also generous and sympathetic. He personally organized a soup kitchen and distributed food to the poor during a famine following a drought. He gave away his personal family inheritance to benefit the poor of his diocese.[14]

His letters show that he actively worked to reform thieves and prostitutes. They also show him encouraging his clergy not to be tempted by wealth or the comparatively easy life of a priest, and that he personally took care in selecting worthy candidates for holy orders. He also had the courage to criticize public officials who failed in their duty of administering justice. At the same time, he preached every morning and evening in his own church to large congregations. In addition to all the above, he built a large complex just outside Caesarea, called the Basiliad, which included a poorhouse, hospice, and hospital, and was regarded at the time as one of the wonders of the world.[14]

His zeal for orthodoxy did not blind him to what was good in an opponent; and for the sake of peace and charity he was content to waive the use of orthodox terminology when it could be surrendered without a sacrifice of truth. The Emperor Valens, who was an adherent of the Arian philosophy, sent his prefect Modestus to at least agree to a compromise with the Arian faction. Basil's adamant response in the negative prompted Modestus to say that no one had ever spoken to him in that way before. Basil replied, "Perhaps you have never yet had to deal with a bishop." Modestus reported back to Valens that he believed nothing short of violence would avail against Basil. Valens was apparently unwilling to engage in violence. He did however issue orders banishing Basil repeatedly, none of which succeeded. Valens came himself to attend when Basil celebrated the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Theophany (Epiphany), and at that time was so impressed by Basil that he donated to him some land for the building of the Basiliad. This interaction helped to define the limits of governmental power over the church.[14]

Basil then had to face the growing spread of Arianism. This belief system, which denied that Christ was consubstantial with the Father, was quickly gaining adherents and was seen by many, particularly those in Alexandria most familiar with it, as posing a threat to the unity of the church.[29] Basil entered into connections with the West, and with the help of Athanasius, he tried to overcome its distrustful attitude toward the Homoiousians. The difficulties had been enhanced by bringing in the question as to the essence of the Holy Spirit. Although Basil advocated objectively the consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son, he belonged to those, who, faithful to Eastern tradition, would not allow the predicate homoousios to the former; for this he was reproached as early as 371 by the Orthodox zealots among the monks, and Athanasius defended him. He maintained a relationship with Eustathius despite dogmatic differences. On the other hand, Basil was grievously offended by the extreme adherents of Homoousianism, who seemed to him to be reviving the Sabellian heresy.[citation needed]

Basil corresponded with Pope Damasus in the hope of having the Roman bishop condemn heresy wherever found, both East and West. The Pope's apparent indifference upset Basil's zeal and he turned around in distress and sadness. It is still a point of controversy over how much he believed the Roman See could do for the Churches in the East, as many Roman Catholic theologians[30] claim the primacy of the Roman bishopric over the rest of the Churches, both in doctrine and in authoritative strength.

He did not live to see the end of the factional disturbances and the complete success of his continued exertions in behalf of the Church. He suffered from liver illness and his excessive asceticism seems to have hastened him to an early death. A lasting monument of his episcopal care for the poor was the great institute before the gates of Caesarea, which was used as poorhouse, hospital, and hospice.[citation needed]

[edit] Writings

Fresco of Basil the Great in the cathedral of Ohrid. The saint is shown consecrating the Gifts during the Divine Liturgy which bears his name.

The principal theological writings of Basil are his On the Holy Spirit, a lucid and edifying appeal to Scripture and early Christian tradition (to prove the divinity of the Holy Spirit), and his Refutation of the Apology of the Impious Eunomius, written in 363 or 364, three books against Eunomius of Cyzicus, the chief exponent of Anomoian Arianism. The first three books of the Refutation are his work; the fourth and fifth books that are usually included do not belong to Basil, or to Apollinaris of Laodicea, but probably to Didymus "the Blind" of Alexandria.[citation needed]

He was a famous preacher, and many of his homilies, including a series of Lenten lectures on the Hexaëmeron (the Six Days of Creation), and an exposition of the psalter, have been preserved. Some, like that against usury and that on the famine in 368, are valuable for the history of morals; others illustrate the honor paid to martyrs and relics; the address to young men on the study of classical literature shows that Basil was lastingly influenced by his own education, which taught him to appreciate the propaedeutic importance of the classics.[citation needed]

In his exegesis Basil tended to interpret Scripture literally—following more the Antiochian school—rather than allegorically as Origen and the Alexandrian school had done. Concerning this, he wrote:

"I know the laws of allegory, though less by myself than from the works of others. There are those, truly, who do not admit the common sense of the Scriptures, for whom water is not water, but some other nature, who see in a plant, in a fish, what their fancy wishes, who change the nature of reptiles and of wild beasts to suit their allegories, like the interpreters of dreams who explain visions in sleep to make them serve their own end."[31]

His ascetic tendencies are exhibited in the Moralia and Asketika (sometimes mistranslated as Rules of St. Basil), ethical manuals for use in the world and the cloister, respectively. Of the two works known as the Greater Asketikon and the Lesser Asketikon, the shorter is the one most probably his work.[citation needed]

It is in the ethical manuals and moral sermons that the practical aspects of his theoretical theology are illustrated. So, for example, it is in his Sermon to the Lazicans that we find St. Basil explaining how it is our common nature that obliges us to treat our neighbor's natural needs (e.g., hunger, thirst) as our own, even though he is a separate individual. Later theologians explicitly explain this as an example of how the saints become an image of the one common nature of the persons of the Trinity.[citation needed]

His three hundred letters reveal a rich and observant nature, which, despite the troubles of ill-health and ecclesiastical unrest, remained optimistic, tender and even playful. His principal efforts as a reformer were directed towards the improvement of the liturgy, and the reformation of the monastic institutions of the East.

Most of his extant works, and a few spuriously attributed to him, are available in the Patrologia Graecae, which includes Latin translations of varying quality. Several of St. Basil's works have appeared in the late twentieth century in the Sources Chrétiennes collection. No critical edition is yet available.[citation needed]

[edit] Legacy

Statue of Saint Basil, depicting him in Western vestments, in the Church of St. Nicholas, Mala Strana, Prague, Czech Republic.

[edit] Liturgical contributions

St Basil of Caesarea holds a very important place in the history of Christian liturgy, coming as he did at the end of the age of persecution. At this time, liturgical prayers were transitioning from being extemporaneous or memorized into written formulas, and liturgy began to be influenced by court ritual. Basil's liturgical influence is well attested in early sources. Though it is difficult at this time to know exactly which parts of the Divine Liturgies which bear his name are actually his work, a vast corpus of prayers attributed to him has survived in the various Eastern Christian churches. Tradition also credits Basil with the elevation of the iconostasis to its present height.[citation needed]

Most of the liturgies bearing the name of Basil are not entirely his work in their present form, but they nevertheless preserve a recollection of Basil's activity in this field in formularizing liturgical prayers and promoting church-song. Patristics scholars conclude that the Liturgy of Saint Basil "bears, unmistakably, the personal hand, pen, mind and heart of St. Basil the Great."[32]

One liturgy that can be attributed to him is The Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great, a liturgy that is somewhat longer than the more commonly used Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. The difference between the two is primarily in the silent prayers said by the priest, and in the use of the hymn to the Theotokos, All of Creation, instead of the Axion Estin of Saint John Chrysostom's Liturgy. Chrysostom's Liturgy has come to replace Saint Basil's on most days in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic liturgical traditions. However, they still use Saint Basil's Liturgy on certain feast days: the first five Sundays of Great Lent; the Eves of Nativity and Theophany; and on Great and Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday; and the Feast of Saint Basil, January 1 (for those churches which follow the Julian Calendar, their January 1 falls on January 14 of the Gregorian Calendar).[citation needed]

The Eastern Churches preserve numerous other prayers attributed to Saint Basil, including three Prayers of Exorcism, several Morning and Evening Prayers, the "Prayer of the Hours" which is read at each service of the Daily Office, and the long and moving "Kneeling Prayers" which are recited by the priest at Vespers on Pentecost in the Byzantine Rite.[citation needed]

[edit] Influence on monasticism

Through his examples and teachings Basil effected a noteworthy moderation in the austere practices which were previously characteristic of monastic life.[33] He is also credited with coordinating the duties of work and prayer to ensure a proper balance between the two.[34]

Basil is remembered as one of the most influential figures in the development of Christian monasticism. Not only is Basil recognised as the father of Eastern monasticism; historians recognize that his legacy extends also to the Western church, largely due to his influence on Saint Benedict.[35] Patristic scholars such as Meredith assert that Benedict himself recognized this when he wrote in the epilogue to his Rule that his monks, in addition to the Bible, should read "the confessions of the Fathers and their institutes and their lives and the Rule of our Holy Father, Basil.[36] Basil's teachings on monasticism, as encoded in works such as his Small Asketikon, was transmitted to the west via Rufinus during the last 4th century.[37]

As a result of his influence, numerous religious orders in Eastern Christianity bear his name. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Basilian Fathers, also known as The Congregation of St. Basil, an international order of priests and students studying for the priesthood, is named after him.

[edit] Commemorations of Basil

St Basil was given the title Doctor of the Church for his contributions to the debate initiated by the Arian controversy regarding the nature of the Trinity, and especially the question of the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Basil was responsible for defining the terms "ousia" (essence/substance) and "hypostasis" (person/reality), and for defining the classic formulation of three Persons in one Nature. His single greatest contribution was his insistence on the divinity and consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son.[14]

In Greek tradition, his name was given to Father Christmas and he is supposed to visit children and give presents every January 1 (St Basil's Day) — unlike other traditions where Saint Nicholas arrives either on December 6 (Saint Nicholas Day) or on Christmas Eve (December 24). It is traditional on St Basil's Day to serve "Vasilopita," a rich bread baked with a coin inside, in commemoration of St. Basil's charity. It is customary on his feast day to visit the homes of friends and relatives, to sing carols, and to set an extra place at the table for Saint Basil. In Greek tradition and according to historical records, St Basil, of Greek heritage, is the original "Santa Claus," who being born into a wealthy family, gave away all his possessions to the poor and those in need, the underprivileged and children.[38] A similar story exists for another Greek bishop, St. Nicholas of Myra. Over the centuries the two have been merged but the Western "Santa Claus" is St. Nicholas and the Eastern "Santa Claus" is St. Basil.[citation needed]

Saint Basil died on January 1, the day on which the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates his feast day together with that of the Feast of the Circumcision.

In the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, January 1 is the day marking the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and St Basil's feast is celebrated on the following day, January 2, together with Saint Gregory Nazianzen. Prior to the revision of the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1969, St Basil's feast was celebrated on June 14, the traditional date of his ordination as Bishop. Traditional Roman Catholics continue to celebrate the feast day of "St. Basil the Great, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor of the Church" as a Double feast or a feast of the III Class.

The Anglican Church celebrates St Basil's feast on January 2, whereas the Episcopal Church celebrates it on June 14. The Lutheran Church, of various synods, commemorates him on both dates, each time with Gregory Nazianzen and Gregory of Nyssa.[citation needed]

In the Byzantine Rite, January 30 is the Synaxis of the Three Holy Hierarchs, in honor of Saint Basil, Saint Gregory the Theologian and Saint John Chrysostom.

The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria celebrates the feast day of Saint Basil on the 6th of Tobi (6th of Terr on the Ethiopian calendar of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church). At present, this corresponds to January 14, January 15 during leap year.[citation needed]

There are numerous relics of Saint Basil throughout the world. One of the most important is his head, which is preserved to this day at the monastery of the Great Lavra on Mount Athos in Greece. The mythical sword Durandal is said to contain some of Basil's blood.[39]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ The exact date of Basil's death is debated by historians. See Rousseau (1994), pp. 360–363, Appendix III: The Date of Basil's Death and of the Hexaemeron for details.
  2. ^ Liturgy of the Hours Volume I. Proper of Saints, January 2.
  3. ^ St Basil the Great the Archbishop of Caesarea, in Cappadocia, Orthodox Church in America Website, http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsLife.asp?FSID=100003, retrieved 2007-12-15 
  4. ^ Quasten (1986), p. 204.
  5. ^ Rousseau (1994), p. 1.
  6. ^ Oratio 43.4, PG 36. 500B, tr. p.30, as presented in Rousseau (1994), p.4.
  7. ^ Davies (1991), p. 12.
  8. ^ Rousseau (1994), p. 4.
  9. ^ Bauer, Jerald (1971), "Basil of Caesarea", The Westminster Dictionary of Christian History, Philadelphia: Westminster Press 
  10. ^ Hildebrand (2007), p. 19.
  11. ^ Norris, Frederick (1997), "Basil of Caesarea", in Ferguson, Everett, The Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (second edition), New York: Garland Press 
  12. ^ Ruether (1969), pp. 19, 25.
  13. ^ Rousseau (1994), pp. 32–40.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Burns, Paul, ed. Butler's Lives of the Saints: New Full Edition January. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press. ISBN 0-8146-2377-8.
  15. ^ St. Basil the Great at Catholic Online.
  16. ^ Hildebrand (2007), pp. 19–20.
  17. ^ Basil, Ep. 223, 2, as quoted in Quasten (1986), p. 205.
  18. ^ a b c Quasten (1986), p. 205.
  19. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica (15th ed.) vol. 1, p. 938.
  20. ^ Merredith (1995), p. 21.
  21. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica (15th ed.) vol. 1, p. 938.
  22. ^ St. Basil the Great in Catholic Encyclopedia: "In 373 ... Eustathius of Sebaste (became) a traitor to the Faith and a personal foe"
  23. ^ a b Attwater, Donald and Catherine Rachel John. The Penguin Dictionary of Saints. 3rd edition. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. ISBN 0140513124.
  24. ^ Rousseau (1994), p. 66.
  25. ^ Merredith (1995), pp. 21–22.
  26. ^ a b Meredith (1995), p. 22.
  27. ^ a b McGuckin (2001), p. 143.
  28. ^ Meredith (1995), p. 23
  29. ^ Foley, O.F.M., Leonard (2003), "St. Basil the Great (329-379)", in McCloskey, O.F.M., Pat (rev.), Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feasts (5th Revised Edition), Cincinnati, Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, ISBN 0-86716-535-9, http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/SaintOfDay/default.asp?id=1248, retrieved 2007-12-15 
  30. ^ Catholic encyclopedia article on Saint Basil makes such a claim: [1].
  31. ^ Basil, "Hexameron, 9.1", in Schaff, Philip, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (2nd Series), 8 Basil: Letters and Select Works, Edinburgh: T&T Clark (1895), p. 102, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf208.viii.x.html, retrieved 2007-12-15 . Cf. Hexameron, 3.9 (Ibid., pp. 70-71).
  32. ^ Bebis (1997), p. 283
  33. ^ Murphy (1930), p. 94.
  34. ^ Murphy (1930), p. 95.
  35. ^ See K.E. Kirk, The Vision of God: The Christian Document of the summum bonun, (London, 1931), 9.118, as quoted in Meredith)
  36. ^ Meredith (1995), p.24
  37. ^ Silvas (2002), pp. 247-259, in Vigliae Christanae
  38. ^ "Santa Claus". Eastern-Orthodoxy.com. http://www.eastern-orthodoxy.com/claus.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-02. 
  39. ^ Keary (1882), p. 512

[edit] Bibliography

  • Bebis, George (Fall-Winter 1997). "Introduction to the Liturgical Theology of St Basil the Great". Greek Orthodox Theological Review 42 (3-4): 273–285. ISSN 0017-3894. 
  • The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, v. 1. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica. 
  • Hildebrand, Stephen M. (2007). The Trinitarian Theology of Basil of Caesarea. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press. ISBN 978-0-8132-1473-3. 
  • Keary, Charles Francis (1882). Outline of Primative Belief Among the Indo-European Races. New York: C. Scribner's Sons. 
  • Meredith, Anthony (1995). The Cappadocians. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminar Press. ISBN 0-8818141-112-4. 
  • Murphy, Margaret Gertrude (1930). St. Basil and Monasticism: Catholic University of America Series on Patristic Studies, Vol. XXV. New York: AMS Press. ISBN 0-404-04543-x. 
  • Rousseau, Phillip (1994). Basil of Caesarea. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-08238-9. 
  • Ruether, Rosemary Radford (1969). Gregory of Nazianzus. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  • Silvas, Anna M. (September 2002). "Edessa to Cassino: The Passage of Basil's Asketikon to the West". Vigliae Christianae (Brill Academic) 56 (3): 247–259. doi:10.1163/157007202760235382. ISSN 042-6032. 
  • Corona, Gabriella, ed. (2006). Aelfric's Life of Saint Basil the Great: Background and Content. [2] Anglo-Saxon Texts 5. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer. ISBN 9781 84384 095 4. 

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