Basil, Saint, the Great, was born at Caesarea about 330 A.D., and.belonged to a distinguished family, his brothers Gregory of Nyssa, Peter of Sebaste, and Naucratius being famous in the annals of the Eastern Church. He at first devoted himself to forensic studies at Constantinople and Athens, but in 357 he was baptised and took to the most ascetic form of Christianity, travelling all over the East to learn the practices of the hermits. In 365 he was ordained at Caesarea, and temporarily retiring into the wildest parts of Pontus, started the first monastic community in the East. In 370 he succeeded Eusebius as bishop of Caesarea, and found himself severely pressed by the Emperor Valens to adopt Arianism, but he resisted even threats of death, and his firmness won for him respect and freedom from molestation till his death in 379. He left several works of interest, e.g. Ascetica, De Spiritu Sancti, his Liturgy, in which music received attention, and his correspondence with his life-long friend Gregory Nazianzen.
Other Basils attained eminence in the Church, as Basil, the first bishop of Ancyra, a semi-Aryan, 336-360; Basil, the mystic, who was burnt alive by Alexius Comnenus in 1118; and Basil of Thessalonica (Ascholius), the friend of St. Ambrose, who baptised Theodosius and died in 384.