This Saturday, January 1, the Armenian Church commemorates the Holy Fathers Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Sylvester of Rome, and Ephrem the Syrian.
St. Basil “the Great” was an intellectual and exceptional leader who helped spread Christianity. At the age of 26 he gave up his wealth and became a monk, and dedicated his life in service of the people, which he did by establishing hospitals, hostels, and public kitchens to distribute food to the needy. He was a talented writer and many of his prayers are still used in the Armenian Church and other Eastern churches.
St. Gregory of Nyssa was the younger brother of Basil, and friend of Gregory of Nazianzus. He was educated in Athens and influenced by the writings of Origen and Plato. He was a professor of Rhetoric, but became disillusioned with his life as a teacher and became a priest. He served as Bishop of Nyssa and Archbishop of Sebastia.
St. Sylvester served as the Bishop of Rome during the era of Constantine for more than twenty years. During the time of his service many great churches were built. He took part in the negotiations concerning Arianism at the Council of Nicaea.
St. Ephrem the Syrian lived in Mesopotamia (Syria) during his entire life. He was baptized at age 18 and he served under St. James of Nisibis. He visited St. Basil at Caesarea and upon his return he helped counter the famine during the winter of 372-73. He distributed food and money to the poor and needy. Let’s note that, during the “Prayer with the People” hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Prelacy clergy also reads from the prayers of St. Ephrem the Syrian among others.