Feast Day: January 02
Born:330 :: Died: 379 & 390
Basil was born at Caesarea and Gregory was born at Cappadocia in Asia Minor which is now called Turkey.
Basil came from a rich and noble family. His grandmother St. Macrina the Elder, his father, mother, two brothers and St. Macrina his sister are all saints.
Gregory also came from a saintly family. His parents are St. Nonna and St. Gregory the Elder and his brothers are St. Caesar Nazianzen and St. Gorgonius.
Basil and Gregory met and became great friends at school in Athens, Greece. They became everything to each other, lived together, ate together and shared the same goal of growing together in truth, wisdom and knowledge. And their love for each other grew warmer and deeper each day.
Even as a teenager Basil used to help organise famine relief and used to work in the kitches himself. This was very unusual for a young nobleman. After he completed his education in Athens, he ran a school of public speaking and law in Caesarea and became a well-known teacher. He was so successful that he was often tempted by pride.
Fearing that his pride would overtake his holiness, his sister, St. Macrina, suggested that he become a monk. He took her advice, sold everything he had, gave away all his money and moved to the wilderness where he started his first monastery. The rules he created for monks living in the dessert were very wise and are followed by monasteries in the East even today.
Both Basil and Gregory became priests and then bishops. They preached bravely against the Arian heresy (untruth) that was confusing people which denied that Jesus is God.
As bishop of Constantinople, Gregory converted many people with his wonderful preaching especially about the Holy Trinity. This nearly cost him his life. A young man planned to murder him. He repented at the last moment and begged Gregory's forgiveness. Gregory did forgive him and won him with his gentle goodness.
But he was always in conflict with the Arian emperor, Valens. When Valens died, Gregory worked hard to bring the Arians back to the Christian faith. For his trouble, he was abused, insulted and beaten up.
Forty-four of Gregory's speeches, 243 letters and many poems were published. His writings are still important today. Many writers have modeled their works on his writings.
Gregory's friend Basil had a very kind and generous heart. He always found time to help the poor. He even invited people who were poor themselves to help those worse off. "Give your last loaf to the beggar at your door," he urged, "and trust in God's goodness." He opened a soup kitchen where he could often be seen wearing an apron and feeding the hungry.
Basil died in 379 at the age of forty-nine. Gregory died in 390 at the age of sixty. He is buried in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
We will never be sorry for using our education, time and talents to help the people around us come closer to God
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