He was born of heathen parents at Tabatha near Gaza about 290; he was sent to Alexandria for his education and there became a convert to Christianity; about 306 he visited St Anthony and became his disciple, embracing the eremitical life.
The general tendency of these Benedictine offshoots was in the direction of greater austerity of life than was practised by the Black Monks or contemplated by St Benedict's Rule - some of them were semi-eremitical; the most important by far were the Cistercians, whose ground-idea was to reproduce exactly the life of St Benedict's own monastery.
Was an attempt to unite the eremitical and cenobitical modes of life.
On leaving Athens Basil visited the monasteries of Egypt and Palestine; in the latter country and in Syria the monastic life tended to become more and more eremitical and to run to great extravagances in the matter of bodily austerities (see Monasticism).
He declared that the cenobitical life is superior to the eremitical; that fasting and austerities should not interfere with prayer or work; that work should form an integral part of the monastic life, not merely as an occupation, but for its own sake and in order to do good to others; and therefore that monasteries should be near towns.
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