Basil of Cherson

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Hieromartyr Basil of Cherson was one of seven bishops of the fourth century, known collectively as the Hieromartyrs of Cherson, who carried the Gospel of Christ into the northwest area of the Black Sea. Of the seven all but one were martyred while pursuing their missionary activities. Basil is commemorated with the other six bishops on March 7.

During the first decade of the fourth century a bishop's see was established at Cherson, a trading settlement on the Crimean peninsula. This missionary activity in the Black Sea was encouraged by Hermon, the Bishop of Jerusalem. Beginning that decade, he sent a series of missionary bishops to Cherson to preach Christ's Gospel. The first to go were Basil and Ephraim.

After they arrived in Cherson, Ephraim proceeded to the area along the Danube River to preach to the people. Basil remained in Cherson where he preached the Word of God to the pagans of the Crimea. While Basil was successful in setting many of the idol-worshippers on the path of truth, others rose up against him. Basil was arrested, mercilessly beaten, and then expelled from the city.

He proceeded to the mountains, and there he settled in a cave where he prayed to God for those who had driven him out, asking that He might illumine them with the light of true knowledge. Soon the Lord presented the unbelievers with a miracle. The only son of an important citizen of Cherson died. In a dream the dead child appeared to his parents and told them that a man named Basil could return him from the dead through his prayers.

The parents then searched and found Basil with whom they pleaded for him to work the miracle. The saintly Basil replied that he himself was a sinful man and did not have the power to raise the dead. He further told them that the Lord Almighty could fulfill their request if they were to believe in Him. Basil then began praying, invoking the Name of the Holy Trinity. After praying for some time Basil blessed water and sprinkled it on the dead child who soon came to life. Basil returned with honor to the city with the restore family. Many saw and believed and were baptized.

During the latter part of the decade the Roman emperor Galerius Maximian renewed the persecutions against Christians, with force. When the persecutions arrived in Cherson, the foes of Christ rose up also against Basil. During the night of March 7, 309 he was pulled from his house, tied up, and dragged through the streets and, then, was beaten to death with stones and rods. His body was then thrown out of the city to be eaten by the wild life. His remains were left unburied, yet were untouched. During the night the Christians recovered his holy body and secretly buried it in a cave.


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