Fathers of the Church

Letter CXI: to Modestus, the Prefect

Description

Basil often wrote letters of recommendation or intercession for friends, usually addressed to public officials.

Provenance

St. Basil's correspondence is a copious and invaluable store of information for the history of the Eastern Church in the fourth century, particularly in Cappadocia. Since he never found a real biographer, his letters represent the best source for his life and times, for his many activities and far-reaching influence, especially for his personality and his character. (Quasten)

by Basil the Great in 357-370 | translated by Blomfield Jackson, M.A

UNDER any ordinary circumstances I should have lacked courage to intrude upon your excellency, for I know how to gauge my own importance and to recognise dignities. But now that I have seen a friend in a distressing position at having been summoned before you, I have ventured to give him this letter. I hope that by using it, as a kind of propitiatory symbol, he may meet with merciful consideration. Truly, although I am of no account, moderation itself may be able to conciliate the most merciful of prefects, and to win pardon for me. Thus if my friend has done no wrong, he may be saved by the mere force of truth; if he has erred, he may be forgiven through my entreaty.

How we are situated here no one knows better than yourself, for you discern the weak parts in each man and rule all with your admirable forethought.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (PNPF II/VIII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.