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Thursday, June 21, 2018
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Daily Saint

February 25: St. Caesarius of Nazianzen

Caesarius lived in the fourth century in present-day Turkey. His father was the bishop of Nazianzen. At that time bishops and priests could marry. Caesarius' brother is St. Gregory of Nazianzen, the close friend of St. Basil. Besides being a saint, Gregory is an important writer from the early Church. His books are still read today.

Both Caesarius and Gregory received an excellent education. But while Gregory wanted to be a priest, Caesarius wanted to be a medical doctor. Both went to the schools that would help them accomplish their goals.

Caesarius completed his studies in medicine at Constantinople. He soon became a well-known and trusted physician. In fact, Emperor Constantius, who lived in Constantinople, wanted Caesarius to be his personal physician. Caesarius thanked the emperor but gently refused. He wanted to go back to Nazianzen, his home city.

Some time later, however, Caesarius was again called to serve the emperor at Constantinople. This time it was the man known to history as Julian the apostate. An apostate was someone who gave up his Christian faith. This man had several official orders against the Christians. He was willing to exempt Caesarius, however, since he was such a good doctor. Julian tried to coax the doctor into giving up his faith. Caesarius was offered positions, bribes and privileges. Caesarius' father and brother advised him to refuse the offers. They suggested he return home to practice medicine.

In 368, Caesarius was almost killed in an earthquake. He escaped unharmed but was badly shaken by the incident. He felt that God was telling him to live a life of prayer away from the noise and flattery of the court. Caesarius gave away his possessions to the poor. He began to live a quiet, prayerful life. St. Caesarius died shortly after in 369. The homily at his funeral was preached by his brother, St. Gregory.

Reflection: How do I see my particular vocation as a way of serving and loving God in his people?