Naucratius

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Saint Naucratius was the son of Basil the Elder and Emmelia of Caesarea. He had distinguished himself both in scholarship and Christian devotion, as an active hermit, a living example for his famous brothers, Basil and Gregory of Nyssa.

Life[edit]

About him, Gregory of Nyssa wrote:

"The second of the four brothers, Naucratius by name, who came next after the great Basil, excelled the rest in natural endowments and physical beauty, in strength, speed and ability to turn his hand to anything. When [968 A] he had reached his twentyfirst year, and had given such demonstration of his studies by speaking in public, that the whole audience in the theatre was thrilled, he was led by a divine providence to despise all that was already in his grasp, and drawn by an irresistible impulse went off to a life of solitude and poverty. He took nothing with him but himself, save that one of the servants named Chrysapius followed him, because of the affection he had towards his master and the intention he had formed to lead the same life. So he lived by himself, having found a solitary spot on the banks of the Iris-a river flowing through the midst of Pontus. It rises actually in Armenia, passes through our parts, and discharges its stream into the [968 B] Black Sea. By it the young man found a place with a luxuriant growth of trees and a hill nestling under the mass of the overhanging mountain. There he lived far removed from the noises of the city and the distractions that surround the lives both of the soldier and the pleader in the law courts. Having thus freed himself from the din of cares that impedes man's higher life, with his own hands he looked after some old people who were living in poverty and feebleness, considering it appropriate to his mode of life to make such a work his care. So the generous youth would go on fishing expeditions, and since he was expert in every form of sport, he provided food to his grateful clients by this means. And at the same time by such exercises he was taming his own manhood.

Besides this, he also gladly obeyed his mother's wishes whenever she issued a command. And so in these two ways he guided his life, [968 C] subduing his youthful nature by toils and caring assiduously for his mother, and thus keeping the divine commands he was travelling home to God.

In this manner he completed the fifth year of his life as a philosopher, by which he made his mother happy, both by the way in which he adorned his own life by continence, and by the devotion of all his powers to do the will of her that bore him.

Then there fell on the mother a grievous and tragic affliction, contrived, I think, by the Adversary, which brought trouble and mourning upon all the family. For he was snatched suddenly away from life. No previous sickness had prepared them for the blow, nor did any of the usual and well known mischances bring death upon the young man. [968 D] Having started out on one of the expeditions, by which he provided necessaries for the old men under his care, he was brought back home dead, together with Chrysapius who shared his life. His mother was far awas, three days distant from the scene of the tragedy. Some one came to her telling the bad news. Perfect though she was in every department of virtue, yet nature dominated her as it does others. For she collapsed, and in a moment lost both breath and speech, since her reason failed her under the disaster, and she was thrown to the ground by the assault of the evil tidings, like some noble athlete hit by an unexpected blow."

References[edit]

This article includes a fragment from Gregory of Nyssa's letter "Life of Macrina" [1]