Asia January Saints

Saint Basil the Great

Feast day: January 2

How To Make Olive Hummus

Today we are feasting with… Saint Basil the Great.

This Middle Eastern dish is made by blending garbanzo beans with tahini, garlic, and lemon. In this version, we’ve incorporated olives, to make a tangy, creamy dip suitable for any occasion.

Saint Basil the Great

Basil was born at Caesarea of Cappadocia in 330. He was one of ten children of St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia. Several of his brothers and sisters are honored among the saints. Basil was well on his way to becoming a famous teacher and orator when he decided to begin a religious life of poverty instead. After studying various aspects of religious life, he was ordained a priest, assisted the Archbishop of Caesarea, founded what was probably the first monastery in Asia Minor, and ultimately became archbishop himself, in spite of opposition from some of the bishops under him.

Arianism, a damaging heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ, was at its height during this time. Emperor Valens persecuted orthodox believers, and put great pressure on Basil to remain silent and admit the heretics to receive communion. Basil remained firm, and Valens relented. However, when the Saint Athanasius died, the mantle of defender of the faith against Arianism fell upon Basil. He strove to unite his fellow Catholics who were crushed by tyranny and torn by internal discord within the Church. He was misunderstood, misrepresented, and falsely accused of heresy. Even appeals to the pope brought no compassion for these hardships.

Basil worked tirelessly in pastoral care. He preached twice a day to huge crowds, built a hospital, and fought against the prostitution business. He also helped reform the clergy, aided famine victims, and wrote several works on monasticism, theology, and canon law.

His writings place him among the great teachers of the Church. Seventy-two years after his death, the Council of Chalcedon described him as “the great Basil, minister of grace who has expounded the truth to the whole earth.”

He is the patron saint of reformers, hospital administrators, monks, and Russia.

Saint Basil the Great, pray for us.

How to make Olive Hummus