Peter of Sebaste

Peter Of Sebaste an Eastern prelate, was born at Caesarea, in Cappadocia. before A.D. 349. He was the youngest of the ten children of Basil and Emmelia, who numbered among their children those eminent fathers of the Church, Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa. Peter's early education was conducted by his sister, St. Macrina, who, in the emphatic phrase of Gregory of Nyssa. "was everything to him — father, teacher, attendant, and mother." The quickness of the boy enabled him readily to acquire anything to which his attention was directed; but his education appears to have been conducted on a very narrow system, profane learning being disregarded. If, however, his literary culture was thus narrowed, his morals were preserved pure; and if he fell short of his more eminent brothers in variety of attainments, he equalled them in holiness of life. The place of his education appears to have been a nunnery at Annesi, or Annesa, on the river Iris, in Pontus, established by his mother and sister; and with them, or in the monastery which his brother Basil had established on the other side of the river, much of his life was passed. In a season of scarcity (A.D. 367, 368 ?), such was his benevolent exertion to provide for the destitute, that they flocked to him from all parts, and gave to the thinly peopled neighborhood in which he resided the appearance of a populous town. His mother's death appears to have occurred about the time of Basil's elevation to the bishopric of the Cappadocian Caesarea, about A.D. 370; soon after which, apparently, Peter received from Basil ordination to the office of presbyter, probably of the Church of Csesarea; for Basil appears to have employed his brother as his confidential agent in some affairs. A passage of Theodoret (H.E. 4:30) shows that he took an active part in the struggle carried on during the reign of Valens by the bishops of the orthodox party against Arianism. It was probably after the death both of Basil and Macrina, about the year 380, as Tillemont judges, that Peter was raised to the bishopric of Sebaste (now Siwas), in the Lesser Armenia. His elevation preceded the second general council, that of Constantinople, A.D. 380-381, in which he took part. In what year he died is not known, but it was probably after A.D. 391, and certainly before the death of his brother, Gregory of Nyssa (who survived till A.D. 394, or later), for Gregory was present at Sebaste at the first celebration of his brother's memory, i.e., the anniversary of his death, which occurred in hot weather, and therefore could not have been in January or March, where the martyrologies place it. The only extant writing of Peter is a letter prefixed to the Contra Eunomium Libri of Gregory of Nyssa, and published with the works of that father. It is entitled Sancti Patris nostri Petri Episcopi Sebasteni ad S. Gregorium Nyssenum suum Epistola. Peter does not appear to have been ambitious of authorship, and probably felt the disqualification arising from his restricted education. Some of the works of his brother Gregory were, however, written at his desire, such as the above-mentioned treatises against Eunomius and the Expicatio Apologetica in Hexaemeron. The De Hominis Opificio is also addressed to him by Gregory, who, both in this treatise and in the Explicatio in Hexaemeron, speaks of him in the highest terms. See Greg. Nyssen. De Vita S. Macrinae; Basil, Maritimis Episcopis Epistola, 203, ed. Bened.; Tillemont, Mimoires, 9:572, Le Quien, Oriens Christianus, volume 1, col. 424; Cave, Hist. Litt. ad ann. 370, 1:246.

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