The Monk Basil

Commemorated on March 26

      The Monk Basil in youth left the world and asceticised in a desolate place. One time courtfolk of the Byzantine emperor were passing on by and saw him shaggy and in tatters, and they were alarmed by his strange appearance. And suspecting something strange, they captured the ascetic and brought him to the city, where the patrician Samon began an interrogation. To the question, who he was, the saint answered only, that he was a new-comer and stranger in the land. They subjected the monk to terrible tortures, but he endured it in silence, not wishing to relate about his ascetic life. Samon, having lost his patience, asked Saint Basil: "Impious one, how long wilt thou hide, who thou art and whither from?" To this the perspicacious saint replied: "It is moreso mete to call impious those, who like thee lead a life in all manner of impurity". After his public unmasking Samon in a rage gave orders to suspend the saint upside down with his hands and feet tied back. The torments were so very cruel, that those witnessing them began to murmur against Samon. When they took down the holy ascetic from the three-day torture, he proved to be alive and unharmed. Samon attributed this miracle to sorcery and gave Saint Basil for tearing apart by an hungry lion. But the lion did not touch the saint and only lay peacefully at his feet. Samon in his impotence gave orders to drown Blessed Basil the sea, but two dolphins came beneathe the saint and brought him to shore in the Constantinople suburb of Eudoma. The monk went into the city, when near the Golden Gates he met a sick man named John, suffering from fever. Saint Basil healed the sick man in the Name of the Saviour and at John's request remained at his home. Numerous believers came also to the saint for advice and guidance, and also to receive healing from sickness through his prayers. The Monk Basil, endowed with the gift of foresight, unmasked sinners and turned them onto the path of repentance, and foretold events to come. Among those visiting the monk was Gregory, who became his disciple and afterwards wrote a detailed life of his teacher. One time at an inn Gregory found a valuable sash, dropped by the inn-keeper's daughter. He hid it on him, so as to pawn it and give the money to the poor. But on the way home he lost the sash together with other things. In a dream he received an admonition from Saint Basil, showing him a broken pot with the words: "If anyone filches such an useless thing, they wilt be chastised four times over. Thou didst hide away a precious sash and thou wilt be condemned as a thief. Thou ought to return what thou didst find".
      When died Saint Theodora, who had attended to the Monk Basil, Gregory very much wanted to learn about her life beyond the grave and often he asked the holy ascetic to reveal this to him. Through the saint's prayers, Gregory saw in a dream Saint Theodora, who told him how her soul underwent tribulations after death and how the power of the prayers of Blessed Basil had helped her (the Commemoration of the Nun Theodora of Tsargrad is 30 December).
      The Monk Basil died in about the year 944 at the age of 110.
      The Church calls him Basil the New, distinguishing him from other ascetics of the same name living before him.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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