The Personality of Saint Basil the Great
The triad of Basil of Caesarea, with his friend, Gregory of Nazianzus,
and his brother, Gregory of Nyssa, called the Cappadocian
Fathers (originally the Great Cappadocians) is a product of
modern scholars, who have regarded as significant the family
links, the geographical locality and their common theological commitment.
It is not a traditional designation: the three Fathers of
the fourth century singled out by the Church as universal teachers
(Оικουμενικοι διδάσκαλοι) are Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologien,
and John of the Golden Mouth, celebrated together on 30 January.
We should perhaps pause before linking the Cappadocians too closely
together: they had individual minds, although the courses of
their lives were undoubtedly interwoven.
Basil was styled The Great even by his contemporaries, and he
deserved the title for many reasons. He was Great as a exponent of
Christian doctrine and as a homilist, greater, however, in practical
life, as a prelate of the Church and a man of deeds. We may
justly said that of the three Great Cappadocians Basil was the
practical man, Gregory of Nazianzus the speaker and writer, Gregory
of Nyssa the thinker. Concerning the talent, they may be said to
complement one another: Basil was pre-eminently a man of action
and government, Gregory of Nazianzus, an orator, Gregory of Nyssa,
a philosopher. Of the three Basil was undoubtedly the most gifted.
On the morrow of his death Saint Basil was surnamed the Great.
He well deserved the title by his intelligence, his eloquence, and his
character. The Church has had very few men so richly gifted and
well-balanced. It has been aptly said of Saint Basil that he was a
Roman among the Greeks. His eloquence was less erudite and less
glowing than that of Gregory Nazianzen; but his mind was more
sound, judicious, and practical, and his speech more familial and
simple. By force of character and born leadership, he exercised over
his contemporaries a decisive influence.