Saints of Christmas: Basil & Gregory


"The Mass of Saint Basil" Pierre Subleyras (1699–1749).

This original painting was designed for St. Peter's. It was enlarged and copied in mosaic form for the Gregorian chapel (where reside also an image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the mortal remains of St. Jehosophat). The painting shows Basil so enrapt in celebration of the mass he doesn't notice the Emperor entering with his men.

St. Basil the Great came by his holiness honestly: his grandmother is St. Macrina the Elder, both his parents are canonized saints, and four of his nine siblings are as well. With the two Gregorys --Nazianzen (his friend) and Nyssa (his brother)-- he is one of the three Cappadocian Fathers. The Eastern Church recognizes him as one of the three Great Hierarchs and in the West we hail him Doctor of the Church. He went to all the best schools, opened a school of his own, with St. Pachomius founded eastern monasticism and opposed Arianism. But the truly amazing thing about him is that he was a politically well-connected lawyer. A lawyer saint!

I love his prayer at the ninth hour. A good pre-Confession prayer.

St. Gregory Nazianzen & Basil met in law school in Athens (where they were also acquainted with Julian later-to-be-apostate). In addition to defending the Church against a succession of malicious emperors, he's also a Hierarch & Doctor for his contributions to our understanding of the Holy Trinity. Find some of his homilies here.

Two men who went to law school and escaped with souls unscathed! Julian? Not so much.

Here's B16 on Three Lessons from St. Basil, and the impact of St. Gregory