Commemorated on April 30
Basil, Bishop of Amasea, lived at the beginning of the IV Century in the
Pontine city of Amasea. He encouraged and comforted the Christians, suffering
persecution by the pagans. During this time the Eastern part of the Roman
empire was ruled by Licinius (312-324), a relative by marriage to the holy
Equal-to-the-Apostles emperor Constantine the Great (306-337, Comm. 21 May).
Licinius deceitfully undersigned Constantine's "Edict of Religious
Toleration" (313), which permitted the freely open confession of
Christianity, but at heart he hated Christians and continued to persecute them
to return to paganism.
Licinius burned with
passion for a maid-servant of his wife Constancia, – the Righteous
Virgin Galphyra. The holy maid reported about this to the empress and
sought her intercession. Having dressed her in men's attire and provided her
with money, the empress Constancia sent her away from the city in the company
of a devoted servant. They told the emperor, that the maid-servant had gone mad
and lay near death. Righteous Glaphyra on the road to Armenia remained in the
city of Amasea, where the local bishop, Saint Basil, gave her shelter.
At this time the
saint was building a church in the city. Righteous Glaphyra for its
construction gave over all the money that she had received from Constancia, and
in a letter to the empress she besought her to send additional funds to
complete the church. The empress fulfilled her request. But the letter of
Righteous Galphyra fell into the hands of the emperor. The enraged Licinius demanded
the governor of Amasea to send him the sainted-hierarch and the maid-servant.
Righteous Galphyra died (+ 322) before the edict arrived in Amasea. They
dispatched Saint Basil to the emperor. Two deacons, Parthenias and Thestimos,
followed after him and lodged near the prison where they locked up the saint.
The pious Christian
Elpidyphoros bribed the jailer and each night together with Parthenias and
Thestimos he visited the saint. On the eve of the trial day of the saint he
sang psalms and the words "if I be at the very depths of the sea, even
there wilt Thy hand guide me and Thine right hand hold me" (Ps. 138 :
9-10) – and thrice he broke down into tears. The deacons were apprehensive
that the saint would be in distress over the coming torments, but he calmed
At the trial Saint
Basil resolutely refused the suggestion of the emperor to become a pagan
high-priest, and therefore he was sentenced to death. Elpidyphoros got to the
soldiers with money, and they allowed the saint to pray and to speak with his
friends before the execution. After this, the saint said to the executioner:
"Friend, do what thou art ordered to", – and calmly he bent beneathe
the blow of the sword.
When the martyr had
been beheaded, Elpidyphoros tried to ransom his remains from the soldiers. But
the soldiers were afraid of the emperor and they threw the body and head of the
saint into the sea. After this, three times in a dream an Angel of God appeared
before Elpidyphoros with the words: "Bishop Basil is in Sinope and doth
await you". Heeding this call, Elpidyphoros and the deacons sailed to
Sinope and there they hired fishermen to lower their nets. When they lowered
the net "on the suggestion" of the deacons Thestimos and Parthenias,
they came up with nothing. Thereupon Elpidyphoros declared, that he would ask
them to lower the net in the Name of the God, Whom he did worship. This time
the net brought up the body of Saint Basil. The head had come back together
with it, and only the gash on the neck indicated the strike of the sword. The
relics of Saint Basil were conveyed to Amasea and buried in the church built by
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.