jeudi 26 mars 2015

Saint PIERRE de SÉBASTE, évêque

Saint Pierre de Sébaste, évêque

Evêque en Arménie, il était issu d'une étonnante famille de saints : frère de saint Basile le Grand, de saint Grégoire de Nysse et de sainte Théosobie, fils de saint Basile l'ancien et de sainte Emilienne, petit-fils de sainte Macrine. Elevé au siège de Sébaste, il donna les preuves de la plus ardente charité et d'une grande fidélité théologique, en particulier lors du concile œcuménique de 392 à Constantinople. Il mourut à Sébaste vers 391.

Saint Pierre de Sébaste

Evêque en Arménie ( 391)

Evêque en Arménie, issu d'une étonnante famille de saints: non seulement il était le frère de saint Basile le Grand et de saint Grégoire de Nysse, sa sœur fut sainte Théosobie, il était aussi le fils de saint Basile l'ancien et de sainte Emilienne et petit-fils de sainte Macrine. Elevé au siège de Sébaste, il donna les preuves de la plus ardente charité et d'une grande fidélité théologique, en particulier lors du concile œcuménique de 392 à Constantinople. 

À Sébaste en Arménie, vers 391, saint Pierre, évêque, frère cadet de saint Basile le Grand, qui fut un défenseur de la foi orthodoxe contre les ariens.

Martyrologe romain

Pierre est le dernier-né des frères et sœurs de Macrine. Le père de famille meurt à la naissance de cet enfant. Dès son sevrage, Macrine le prend à sa nourrice et l’élève elle-même. Elle va le faire accéder à la culture la plus élevée, l’exerçant dès l’enfance aux sciences sacrées et ne laissant pas à son âme le loisir de diverses futilités. Macrine se montre, pour Pierre, son père, maître, pédagogue, mère et conseillère de tous biens.

Pierre, qui a depuis son enfance une formation exclusivement religieuse, n’a pas à se convertir à proprement parler. Il est chrétien depuis toujours. Encore adolescent, il prend son élan, grâce à sa sœur, vers l’idéal sublime de la philosophie. Il est naturellement doué, habile dans le travail manuel. Il admire sa sœur et se met à son école. Il la prend pour modèle de tout bien et accomplit ainsi de grands progrès dans la vertu; des progrès tels qu’il est autant estimé que le Grand Basile; c’est tout dire! Macrine n’est pas un simple exemple pour son frère; elle est véritablement le modèle à imiter pour parvenir à la vie bienheureuse. L’exemple a une très grosse importance dans la tradition; il suffit présentement d’évoquer les Pères d’Egypte (la référence obligée!) : Regarde et fais et saint Benoît : Ecoute, fais et tu parviendras.

St. Peter of Sebaste

Bishop, b. about 340; d. 391. He belonged to the richly blest family of Basil and Emmelia of Caesarea in Cappadocia, from which also sprang St. Macrina the Younger and the two great Cappadocian doctors, Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nyssa. He was the youngest of a large family, and Macrina, his eldest sister, exercised a great influence over his religious training, acting as his instructress in the way of Christian perfection, and directing him toward the spiritual and ascetic life. Renouncing the study of the profane sciences, he devoted himself to meditation on Holy Writ and the cultivation of the religious life. Shortly after his brother's elevation to the episcopal See of Caesarea, Peter received from him priestly ordination, but subsequently, withdrawing from active affairs, resumed the life of a solitary ascetic. He assisted his sister toward the attainment of her life's object, and aided her and her mother in their monastic establishment after his father's death (Gregory of Nyssa, "Vita s. Macrinae"). About 380-81 he was elevated to the See of Sebaste in Armenia and, without displaying any literary activity, took his stand beside his brothers Basil and Gregory in their fight against the Arian heresy (Theodoret, "H.E.", IV, xxvii). In his life and episcopal administration he displayed the same splendid characteristics as Basil. Linked together in the closest manner with his brothers, he followed their writings with the greatest interest. At his advice Gregory of Nyssa wrote his great work "Against Eunomius", in defense of Basil's similarly named book answering the polemical work of Eunomius. It was also at his desire that Gregory wrote the "Treatise on the Work of the Six Days", to defend Basil's similar treatise against false interpretations and to complete it. Another work of Gregory's, "On the endowment of Man", was also written at Peter's suggestion, and sent to the latter with an appropriate preface as an Easter gift in 397. We have no detailed information concerning his activity as a bishop, except that he was present at the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381. After his death in 391 he was venerated as a saint. His feast falls on 8-9 January.


Acta SS., I Jan, 588-590; BUTLER, Lives of the Saints, I, 9 Jan; see bibliography under BASIL THE GREAT and GREGORY OF NYSSA.

Kirsch, Johann Peter. "St. Peter of Sebaste." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 26 Mar. 2015 <>.

St. Peter of Sebaste
Born c. 340, St. Peter was the youngest child of Sts. Basil (the Elder) and Emiliana (Emilia); he may have been a posthumous child. Some say that he was born after his father's death, and others say that the elder Basil died while Peter was an infant. Macrina, his oldest sister, raised him, and he, like his brothers, gave up the study of rhetoric. He became a monk at Basil the Great's monastery on the Iris River; when Basil became bishop in 370, Peter succeeded him as abbot. Basil ordained Peter to the priesthood. During a famine in the Pontus and Cappadocia, Peter did much to alleviate its effects. Peter was named bishop of Sebaste in 380, and he attended the second Council of Nicaea the following year. At the request of his brother, Gregory of Nyssa, Peter completed Basil's Hexmeron. Peter, who helped to eliminate Arianism in his diocese, died c. 391
St. Peter of Sebaste

January 9
Peter's family was well known to the Christians of the 4th century. We met his brother Basil on the 2nd of this month and will meet his brother Gregory of Nyssa on March 10th. His parents, sister Macrina and his grandmother Macrina the Elder are also saints and were prominent in the Christian community of their day.

Peter was the youngest of the ten children. His father died when he was very young and his sister Macrina took over his education. She raised him to love God with all his heart and Peter, who was a very quiet and gentle boy, grew to be a very pious and strongly committed young man. Peter's mother had founded two monasteries. The one for men was under the guidance of his older brother Basil and it was there that he decided to consecrate his entire life to God.

In 362 Basil had to give up the guidance of the monastery because of other responsibilities, so he appointed Peter to replace him. Peter became well known and loved for his charity, gentleness and concern for all in need. He sometimes frightened the members of his community by his generosity, for example, during a time of famine, he took from the monastery food supplies to give to the poor of the countryside.

In 370 Peter was ordained to the priesthood. After the death of Basil and Macrina, Peter was consecrated to the bishopric in 380. His main focus became the refutation of Arianism. Although not formally educated in rhetoric and other subjects, be proved to be a very eloquent defender of the faith. In 381 he attended the general council of Constantinople. He died in the summer of 391.

Peter was not as eloquent and influential as his brother Basil, but his life bears witness to the greatness a soul can achieve by making love of God, humility and self-denial the central focus of one's life.

© 1998 The Monastery of Christ in the Desert

St. Peter of Sebaste, Bishop and Confessor


From the life of his sister St. Macrina, composed by their brother St. Gregory of Nyssa; and from St. Gregory Naz. Or. 20. See also Theodoret. Hist. Eccl. l. 4. c. 30. Ruffin, l. 2. c. 9. and the judicious compilation of Tillemont, in his life of St. Gregory of Nyssa, art. 6. t. 9. p. 572.

About the year 387.

THE FAMILY of which St. Peter descended, was very ancient and illustrious; St. Gregory Nazianzen tells us, that his pedigree was made up of a list of celebrated heroes; but their names are long since buried in oblivion, whilst those of the saints which it gave to the church, and who despised the world and its honours, are immortal in the records of the church, and are written in the book of life; for the light of faith, and the grace of the Almighty, extinguishing in their breasts the sparks of worldly ambition, inspired them with a most vehement ardour to attain the perfection of Christian virtue, and changed their family into a house of saints; three brothers were at the same time eminently holy bishops, St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Peter of Sebaste; and their eldest sister, St. Macrina, was the spiritual mother of many saints and excellent doctors; their father and mother, St. Basil the Elder, and St. Emelia, were banished for their faith in the reign of the Emperor Galerius Maximian, and fled into the deserts of Pontus; they are recorded together in the Roman Martyrology, on the 30th of May: the grandmother of our pious and fruitful family of saints, was the celebrated St. Macrina the Elder, who was instructed in the science of salvation by St. Gregory Thaumaturgus. St. Peter of Sebaste was the youngest of ten children, and lost his father in his cradle, some think before he was born; and his eldest sister, Macrina, took care of his education, in which it was her only aim to instruct him in the maxims of religion, and form him to perfect piety; profane studies she thought of little use to one, who designed to make salvation the sole end of all his inquiries and pursuits, nor did he ever make them any part of his employment, confining his views to a monastic state. His mother had founded two monasteries, one for men, the other for women; the former she put under the direction of her son Basil, the latter under that of her daughter Macrina. Peter, whose thoughts were wholly bent on cultivating the seeds of piety that had been sown in him, retired into the house governed by his brother, situated on the bank of the river Iris; when St. Basil was obliged to quit that post, in 362, he left the abbacy in the hands of St. Peter, who discharged this office for several years with great prudence and virtue. When the provinces of Pontus and Cappadocia were visited by a severe famine, he gave a remarkable proof of his charity; human prudence would have advised him to be frugal in the relief of others, till his own family should be secured against that calamity; but Peter had studied the principles of Christian charity in another school, and liberally disposed of all that belonged to his monastery, and whatever he could raise, to supply with necessaries the numerous crowds that daily resorted to him, in that time of distress. Soon after Saint Basil was made bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, in 370, he promoted his brother Peter to the priesthood; the holy abbot looked on the holy orders he had received as a fresh engagement to perfection. His brother St. Basil, died on the 1st of January, in 3T9, and his sister Macrina in November, the same year. Eustathius, bishop of Sebaste, in Armenia, a violent Arian, and a furious persecutor of St. Basil, seems to have died soon after them; for St. Peter was consecrated bishop of Sebaste, in 380, to root out the Arian heresy in that diocess, where it had taken deep root; the zeal of a saint was necessary, nor can we doubt that God placed our saint in that dignity for this purpose. A letter which St. Peter wrote, and which is prefixed to St. Gregory of Nyssa’s books against Eunomius, has entitled him to a rank among the ecclesiastical writers, and is a standing proof, that though he had confined himself to sacred studies, yet by good conversation and reading, and by the dint of genius, and an excellent understanding, he was inferior to none but his incomparable brother Basil, and his colleague Nazianzen, in solid eloquence. In 381, he attended the general council held at Constantinople, and joined the other bishops in condemning the Macedonian heretics. Not only his brother St. Gregory; but also Theodoret, and all antiquity, bear testimony to his extraordinary sanctity, prudence, and zeal. His death happened in summer, about the year 387, and his brother of Nyssa mentions, that his memory was honoured at Sebaste (probably the very year after his death) by an anniversary solemnity, with several martyrs of that city. 
1 His name occurs in the Roman Martyrology, on the 9th of January.
  We admire to see a whole family of saints! This prodigy of grace, under God, was owing to the example, prayers, and exhortations of the elder St. Macrina, which had this wonderful influence and effect; from her they learned most heartily and deeply to imbibe the true spirit of self-denial and humility, which all Christians confess to be the fundamental maxim of the gospel; but this they generally acknowledge in speculation only, whereas it is in the heart that this foundation is to be laid; we must entertain no attachment, says St. Gregory of Nyssa, 2 to any thing, especially where there is most danger of passion, by some sensual pleasure annexed, and we must begin by being upon our guard against sensuality in eating, which is the most ancient enemy, and the father of vice: we must observe in our whole life the most exact rule of temperance, never making the pleasure of sense our end, but only the necessity of the use we make of things, even those in which a pleasure is taken. In another treatise he says, 3 he who despises the world, must also renounce himself, so as never to follow his own will, but purely to seek in all things the will of God; we are his in justice, his will must be the law and rule of our whole life. This precept of dying to ourselves, that Christ may live in us, and all our affections and actions governed by his spirit, is excellently inculcated by St. Basil the Great. 4

Note 1. St. Gr. Nyss. ep. ad Flav. t. 3. p. 645. 

Note 2. St. Gr. Nyss, de Virg. c. 9.

Note 3. Id. de perfectâ Christi forma. 

Note 4. St. Basil, in Ps. 34. de Bapt. l. 1. et Interr. 237.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume I: January. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.