St. Basil the Great

Melissa Carmon Art St. Basil the Great.jpg


Saint Basil, 
learned and privileged
born to the best teachers
the sea of books
those Latin luminaries
heroes of old surround you
if only in the tall, cool
quiet the shade of library walls
where great words and great heroes
find their rest
until a momentary sunbeam
falls upon their legends
to live again.

With equality
you blessed their pages
and sent out the faithful
to pan for gold
collect those shimmering bits among the dross
and let the dross flow away, stream bound

A city of mercy
because masters will have
a Master to whom
they will render
an account

The sick
are as the well
once were, and the
grave privileges
no one. 

Even the rich
with their noble deaths
attended by relative
cleanliness and purple
cannot escape
that great leveler of men

Simon Peter
once said that the rich
will fade like flower petals
And with his tree-trunk fisherman's hands
he said with gentleness
weighted words, they
resounded round
and heavy in our
hearts: be humble

Saint Basil, the powerful
held no sway, your open hands to the poor
caused them to rise
and bless you


Historical Background:  St. Basil the Great (330 CE - 379 CE) is often portrayed as a younger man (in contrast to other saints who are portrayed in older age) because he died at 49 years old.  He accomplished a staggering amount during his short life.  He was a capable administrator, wrote works of theology that shaped the course of Christianity, and established "cities of mercy" where the sick and poor could receive medical help, and people without training could receive skills to help them make a living.  

Melissa Carmon