Basil the Younger, Ascetic

March 8 is the Feast of Saint Basil the Younger, Ascetic

“At a young age, Venerable St. Basil left the world and began his struggle in a desert place. It happened that seeing him in a forest, courtiers of the Byzantine Emperor who were passing by were alarmed by his strange appearance. Imagining that that he could be the source of trouble, they seized the ascetic and brought him into the city, where Patriarch Samon had him interrogated. When asked to identify himself, the Saint answered only that he was a pilgrim and a stranger on this earth. They submitted the Venerable one to extreme tortures, but he remained resolutely silent, not wanting to tell of his life of spiritual struggle. Losing patience, Samon asked St. Basil: “Impious one, will you long persist in hiding who you are, and from whence you came?” The clairvoyant responded: “One should call impious those who, like you, spend their lives in all manner of uncleanness.” Furious at this public denunciation, Samon ordered that the Saint be suspended, head down, with his arms and legs tied behind his back. The torture was so cruel that those who witnessed it began to complain about Samon. When, after three days of trial, the holy struggler was taken down, he was seen to be alive and unharmed. Samon ascribed this miracle to sorcery and had St. Basil thrown to a hungry lion. However, the lion would not touch the Saint, and peacefully lay down at his feet. In his impotence, Samon ordered that blessed Basil be drowned in the sea. However, two dolphins took hold of the Saint, and brought him to shore in Eudom, near Constantinople. The saint went into the city. There, near the Golden Gates, he met a man named John who suffered from epilepsy. St. Basil healed the sick man in the Name of the Savior, and then, at John’s request, stayed at his home. Multitudes of the faithful would come to the Blessed One for advice and instruction, and to receive healing of their illnesses by his prayers. Possessing the gift of clairvoyance, St. Basil would criticize sinners and move them onto the path of repentance. He would also foretell coming events. Among the Saint’s visitors was Gregory, who became his disciple and who later wrote a detailed account of his teacher’s life. Once, at an inn, Gregory found an expensive belt that had been misplaced by the innkeeper’s daughter. Thinking to sell it and distribute the proceeds to the poor, Gregory hid it. However, on the way home, he lost both the belt and his things. In a dream, he was taught a lesson by St. Basil, who showed him a broken pot, and said: “If anyone should steal even such a useless thing, he will be punished fourfold. You hid a belt that did not belong to you, and are condemned as a thief. You must return what you find.”
When St. Theodora, who attended St. Basil reposed, Gregory very much wanted to find out about her life after death, and he would often ask the holy struggler to reveal it to him. By the Saint’s prayers, he once saw Eldress Theodora in a dream. She related to him her soul’s journey through the toll houses after her death, and how she was helped by the power of St. Basil’s prayers. (St. Theodora is commemorated on 30 December.)
St. Basil reposed ca. 944 AD, at the age of 110.
basil younger life
“The Life of Saint Basil the Younger: Critical Edition and Annotated Translation of the Moscow Version” (Dumbarton Oaks Studies) Denis F. Sullivan (Translator), Alice-Mary Talbot (Translator), Stamatina McGrath (Translator) (2014)
“The Life of St. Basil the Younger”, one of the longest and most important middle Byzantine saints’ lives, presents the life of a holy man who lived in Constantinople in the first part of the tenth century. Usually described as a fictional saint, he had the distinction of residing in private homes rather than in a monastery, performing numerous miracles and using the gift of clairvoyance. The vita, purportedly written by one of Basil’s disciples, a pious layman named Gregory, includes many details on daily life in Constantinople, with particular attention to slaves, servants, and eunuchs. Two lengthy descriptions of visions provide the most comprehensive source of information for Byzantine views on the afterlife. In one, the soul of an elderly servant Theodora journeys past a series of tollbooths, where demons demand an accounting of her sins in life and collect fines for her transgressions; in the other Gregory describes his vision of the celestial Jerusalem, the enthronement of the Lord at his Second Coming, and the Last Judgment. This volume provides a lengthy introduction and a critical edition of the Greek text facing the annotated English translation, the first in any language.

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