Wednesday, 2 January 2013
Twelve Days of Christmas – Day Nine
The ninth day of the twelve days of Christmas celebrates the octave day of St Stephen, The Feast Day of St Basil the Great and St Gregory Nazianzen, and in England the Litchfield Martyrs are celebrated.
For information about St Stephen, the first Christian martyr, please refer to my blog Twelve Days of Christmas – Day Two.
Basil of Caesarea also called Saint Basil the Great (c.330-379) came from a wealthy family in which there were several saints. He became the Greek bishop of Caesarea Mazaqca in Cappacocia, Asia Minor, which is modern day Turkey.
Saint Basil was ideally situated to oppose heresy in the Church through his political contacts and his personal theological beliefs.
However, the saint was compassionate. He genuinely cared for the poor and ill-advantaged. During a famine, which followed a drought, he began a soup kitchen and personally set up a soup kitchen and distributed food. He also gave away his fortune inherited from his family for the benefit of the poor and needy.
Moreover, he laid down guidelines for monastic life and is considered a saint by Eastern and Western Christianity.
From all that I have read about Basil the Great he was truly saintly and his life is still an inspiration to ordinary people.
St Gregory Nazianzen
According to the Catholic News Agency, “St. Gregory was a Doctor of the Church, born at Arianzus in Asia Minor, probably in 325, and died in 389. He was the son of Gregory, Bishop of Nazianzus (329-374.)
After his baptism at age 30, Gregory joined his friend Basil of Caesarea also called Saint Basil the Great in a newly founded monastery.
At 41, Gregory was chosen suffragan bishop of Caesarea and like his good friend St. Basil, had a hard time fighting against Aryanism and opposing the then-Arian emperor, Valens.
It was in Constantinople, where he tried to bring back Christians from Aryanism, where he began giving the great sermons on the Trinity for which he is famous.
He was acclaimed simply as “the Theologian.”
The Litchfield Martyrs
According to legend, during the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s reign, 1,000 Christians were martyred in Litchfield around 300 A.D. It is interesting to note that the name Litchfield means field of the dead.