Fathers of the Church

Letter CXCIII: to Meletius the Physician

Description

A brief explanation of Basil's ill health.

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

I AM not able to flee from the discomforts of winter so well as cranes are, although for foreseeing the future I am quite as clever as a crane. But as to liberty of life the birds are almost as far ahead of me as they are in the being able to fly. In the first place I have been detained by certain worldly business; then I have been so wasted by constant and violent attacks of fever that there does seem something thinner even than I was,—I am thinner than ever. Besides all this, bouts of quartan ague have gone on for more than twenty turns. Now I do seem to be free from fever, but I am in such a feeble state that I am no stronger than a cobweb. Hence the shortest journey is too far for me, and every breath of wind is more dangerous to me than big waves to those at sea. I have no alternative but to hide in my hut and wait for spring, if only I can last out so long, and am not carried off beforehand by the internal malady of which I am never rid. If the Lord saves me with His mighty hand, I shall gladly betake myself to your remote region, and gladly embrace a friend so dear. Only pray that my life may be ordered as may be best for my soul's good.

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.