Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 67(4) November 2017

Great Medical Lives

St Basil the Great (330 AD to 379 AD)
The Patron Saint of Hospital Administrators

Feast Day 2nd January

St Basil the GreatModern civilisation owes an enormous amount to Christianity, but in our current society it often seems that the gifts that our Christian heritage have given us are overlooked or forgotten. One wonderful example of this is the Basiliad. Founded by Saint Basil the Great just outside Caesarea this was an institution like nothing that had come before it.

'Matters have come to this pass: the people have left their houses of prayer and assembled in the deserts, a pitiable sight; women and children, old men, and men otherwise infirm, wretchedly faring in the open air, amid most profuse rains and snow-storms and winds and frosts of winter; and again in summer under a scorching sun.To this they submit because they will have no part of the wicked Arian leaven'.
– St. Basil the Great; Epistulae 242, 376 AD.

It was a large complex built for the specific purpose of caring for the sick. It utilised trained doctors and nurses, which at the time was controversial even among some Christians, and included a care home for the elderly and infirm and a separate hospice for lepers. It provided the inspiration for many similar institutions across the eastern Roman empire. At the time it was considered one of the wonders of the world. Today, of course most people would call this institution not a Basiliad but a Hospital.

Through the intercession of St Basil the Great may our hospitals be guided by a spirit of true Christian charity.

And finally, on a festive note....did you know that in the Greek Orthodox church it is St Basil rather than St Nicholas who brings children their gifts?

St Basil the Great; Pray for us!

Originally posted on our Facebook page by
Dr Peter Au-Yeung who is a critical care consultant working in Hong Kong. @cmaenglandandwales