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Peter of Sebaste, Saint

Bishop, b. about 340; d. 391

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Peter of Sebaste, Saint, 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 Saint Macrina the Younger (q.v.) 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 towards 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 towards 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-January 9.

J. P. KIRSCH


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"I dare not longer contradict the decrees of him who keeps the doors of the Kingdom of Heaven, lest he should refuse me admission."
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