Sainted Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea Cappadocia, "belongs not to the Church of Caesarea alone, nor merely to his own time, nor to his own kinsmen was he merely of benefit, but rather to all lands and cities worldwide, and to all people he brought and yet brings benefit, and for Christians he always was and will be a teacher most salvific", – thus spoke the contemporary of Saint Basil, Sainted Amphylokhios,
Bishop of Iconium Basil the Great had mastered all the available disciplines: "He so thoroughly studied everything, more than others are wont to study a single subject, each science he studied to its very totality, as though he would study naught else". Philosopher, philologist, orator, jurist, naturalist, possessing profound knowledge in astronomy, mathematics and medicine, – "this was a ship, loaded down full of learning, to the extent allowed of by human nature".
Overcoming the heretics "by the weapon of his mouth, and by the arrows of his letters", as an untiring champion of Orthodoxy, Saint Basil all his life gave challenge to the hostility and the every which way possible intrigues of the Arian heretics.
The emperor Valens, mercilessly dispatching into exile any bishops that displeased him, and having implanted Arianism into other Asia Minor provinces, suddenly appeared in Cappadocia for precisely this purpose. He sent off to Saint Basil the prefect Modestus, who began to threaten the saint with ruin, banishment, beatings and even death by execution. "All this, – replied Basil, – for me means nothing, since one cannot be deprived of possessions that one does not have, beyond some old worn-out clothing and some books, which comprises the entirety of my wealth. For me it would not be exile, since I am bound to no particular place, and this place in which I now dwell is not mine, and indeed any place whither I be cast shalt be mine. Better it is to say: everywhere is the place of God, whither be naught stranger nor new-comer (Ps. 38 : 13). And what tortures can ye do me? – I am so weak, that merely but the very first blow will be felt. Death for me would be an act of kindness: it wilt bring me all the sooner to God, for Whom I live and do labour, and to Whom moreover I do strive". The official was bewildered by such an answer. "Perhaps, – continued the saint, – thou hast never had encounter with a bishop; otherwise, without doubt, thou wouldst have heard suchlike words. In all else we are meek, the most humble of all, and not only afront the mighty, but also afront all, since such is prescribed for us by the law. But when it is a matter concerning God and they make bold to rise up against Him, then we – being mindful of naught else, think only of Him alone, and then fire, sword, wild beasts and chains, the rending of the body, would sooner hold satisfaction for us, than to be afraid".
Reporting to Valens on the not to be intimidated Saint Basil, Modestus said: "Emperor, we stand defeated by a leader of the Church".
Saint Basil almost daily celebrated Divine-services. He was particularly concerned about the strict fulfilling of the canons of the Church, and kept attentive watch, so that only worthy individuals should enter into the clergy. He incessantly made the rounds of his own church, lest anywhere there be an infraction of Church discipline, and setting aright any unseemliness.
Sickly since youth, the toil of teaching, efforts at abstinence, the concerns and sorrows of pastoral service early sapped the strength of the saint. Saint Basil died on 1 January 379 at age 49.