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E00817: Basil of Caesarea, in his Letter 176 of 374, invites Amphilochios, bishop of Ikonion/Iconium, to visit Kaisareia/Caesarea of Cappadocia (both central Asia Minor), in order to attend local festivals of unnamed martyrs, held on 2 and 5 September. Written in Greek at Kaisareia.

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posted on 2015-10-30, 00:00 authored by erizos
Basil of Caesarea, Letters (CPG 2900), Letter 176


Παράσχοι ὁ ἅγιος Θεὸς ἐρρωμένῳ σοι τὸ σῶμα καὶ ἀπὸ πάσης ἀσχολίας ἀνειμένῳ καὶ πάντα πράττοντι κατὰ νοῦν τὴν ἐπιστολὴν ἡμῶν ταύτην εἰς χεῖρας ἐλθεῖν, ἵνα μὴ ἄπρακτος ἡμῶν ἡ παράκλησις γένηται ἣν παρακαλοῦμεν νῦν ἐπιφανῆναί σε ἡμῶν τῇ πόλει ἐπὶ τῷ σεμνοτέραν γενέσθαι τὴν πανήγυριν ἣν δι’ ἔτους ἄγειν ἐπὶ τοῖς μάρτυσιν ἔθος ἐστὶν ἡμῶν τῇ Ἐκκλησίᾳ. Πέπεισο γάρ, τιμιώτατέ μοι καὶ ποθεινότατε ὡς ἀληθῶς, ὅτι, πολλῶν εἰς πεῖραν ἐλθὼν ὁ παρ’ ἡμῖν λαός, τῆς οὐδενὸς οὕτως ἀντέχεται ἐπιτυχίας ὡς τῆς σῆς παρουσίας, τοιοῦτον κέντρον ἀγάπης ἐκ τῆς μικρᾶς ἐκείνης συντυχίας ἐναφῆκας. Ἵνα οὖν καὶ ὁ Κύριος δοξασθῇ καὶ λαοὶ εὐφρανθῶσι καὶ τιμηθῶσι μάρτυρες καὶ ἡμεῖς οἱ γέροντες τῆς ὀφειλομένης ἡμῖν παρὰ τέκνου γνησίου τύχωμεν θεραπείας, καταξίωσον ἀόκνως μέχρις ἡμῶν διαβῆναι καὶ προλαβεῖν τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς συνόδου, ὥστε ἐπὶ σχολῆς ἡμᾶς ἀλλήλοις συγγενέσθαι καὶ συμπαρακληθῆναι διὰ τῆς κοινωνίας τῶν πνευματικῶν χαρισμάτων. Ἔστι δὲ ἡ ἡμέρα τῇ πέμπτῃ τοῦ Σεπτεμβρίου. Διὸ παρακαλοῦμεν πρὸ τριῶν ἡμερῶν ἐπιστῆναι, ἵνα καὶ τοῦ πτωχοτροφείου τὴν μνήμην μεγάλην ποιήσῃς τῇ παρουσίᾳ. Ἐρρωμένος καὶ εὔθυμος ἐν Κυρίῳ ὑπερευχόμενός μου διαφυλαχθείης μοι καὶ τῇ τοῦ Θεοῦ Ἐκκλησίᾳ χάριτι τοῦ Κυρίου.

‘To Amphilochios, Bishop of Ikonion

May the holy God grant that this letter of ours come into your hands, finding you strong in body, free from all occupation, and faring in all respects according to your wish, in order that our invitation may not be in vain, which we now extend to you to visit our city, for the purpose of rendering more impressive the festival which it is the custom of our church to celebrate annually in honour of the martyrs. For be assured, my most honoured and truly cherished brother, that although our people have had experience of many visitors, they insist upon the visit of no one so urgently as they do upon your coming; so potent was the barb of love which you implanted in them on the occasion of the former brief visit. In order, therefore, that the Lord may be glorified, the people made happy, the martyrs honoured, and we old men receive the deference due to us from a true son, deign to come to us without hesitation, and to anticipate the days of the festival, so that we may converse at leisure with each other and be mutually consoled through the sharing of spiritual gifts. The day is the fifth of September. Accordingly we urge you to arrive three days beforehand, in order that you may also make great by your presence the festival of the house of the poor. In good health and joyful in the Lord, praying for me, may you be preserved to me and to the Church of God by the grace of the Lord.’

Text: Courtonne, vol. 2, 112-113.
Translation: Deferrari, vol. 2, p. 478-483 (modified).


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Eupsychios, martyr in Kaisareia/Caesarea of Cappadocia : S00470 Mamas, martyr in Kaisareia/Caesarea of Cappadocia : S00436

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Basil of Caesarea

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Hospital and other charitable institutions

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


Born around 330 to an aristocratic Christian family of Neokaisareia/Neocaesarea of Pontus Polemoniacus (Anatolia), Basil was educated in Kaisareia/Caesarea, Antioch, and Athens. After his studies, he spent time in the monasteries in Egypt, before returning to Pontus, where he organised an ascetic community on his family estate in Pontus. In the 360s, Basil was ordained in Kaisareia/Caesarea, and, on 14 June 370, he was consecrated bishop there. He died on 1 January 379. Basil was a prolific writer, composing homilies, theological, ascetical, and liturgical works. His 369 letters form a major corpus on ecclesiastical politics and the broader history of Anatolia and the Christian East. On the manuscript tradition, editions and translations of this letter, see: Fedwick, P.J., Bibliotheca Basiliana Universalis. 5 vols. Vol. I (Corpus Christianorum; Turnhout: Brepols, 1993), 316.


By this letter, Basil invites his fellow bishop and friend, Amphilochios of Ikonion/Iconium to Kaisareia/Caesarea in order to attend the festival (σύνοδος/synodos) of the local martyrs on 5 September. This was very probably a festival of several days, culminating in the feast of the martyr *Eupsychios, which Basil, in another letter, places on 7 September (E00818). From other letters of Basil (E00772; E00819), we know that bishops from all the diocese of Pontus were invited to attend this festival which thus became a regular occasion for local episcopal meetings. Officially, the see of Ikonion/Iconium, metropolitan bishopric of Lycaonia, was probably not part of Basil’s jurisdicition in Pontus, since it belonged to the Civil Diocese of Asia (presumably under the primacy of Ephesus). The invitation to its bishop is probably based on Basil’s close friendship with Amphilochios, but may also be an attempt to extend the influence of his see. Basil encourages Amphilochios to go to Kaisareia/Caesarea three days in advance, i.e. on 2 September, in order to participate in the festival of the local house of the poor. 2 September is known from the Synaxarion of the Church of Constantinople as the feast of *Mamas, one of the most popular local martyrs of Kaisareia/Caesarea. It is possible that this ptochotrophium was associated with the shrine of Mamas, a martyr portrayed as a poor shepherd (see E00719).


Text edition and French Translation: Courtonne, Y., Saint Basile. Lettres. 3 vols (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1957-1966). Text and English Translations: Deferrari, R. J. Saint Basil, the Letters. 4 vols. Vol. 2 (Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press, 1928). Way, A.C., Saint Basil. Letters, Volume 1 (1‒185) (Fathers of the Church 13; Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1951). Further Reading: Courtonne, Y., Un témoin du IVe siècle oriental: saint Basile et son temps d'après sa correspondance (Collection d'études anciennes; Paris: Les Belles lettres, 1973), esp. 356-359. Radde-Gallwitz, A., "The Letter Collection of Basil of Caesarea," in: C. Sogno, B.K. Storin, and E. Watts (eds.), Late Antique Letter Collections: A Critical Introduction and Reference Guide (Oakland: University of California Press, 2017), 69-80. Rousseau, P., Basil of Caesarea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).

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