Health and Fasting: A View from Antiquity

icon-2-basil face and right hand only

Basil of Caesarea (330-379 AD), detail from a 19th century Russian icon.

Take fasting, O you paupers, as the companion of your home and table; O you servants, as rest from the continual labors of your servitude; O you rich, as the remedy that heals the damage caused by your indulgence and in turn makes what you usually despise more delightful; O you infirm, as the mother of health; O you healthy, as the guardian of your health. Ask the physicians, and they will tell you that the most perilous state of all is perfect health.

Basil of Caesarea, Second Homily on Fasting, in Susan R. Holman and Mark Del Cogliano, trans., St Basil the Great: On Fasting and Feasts (Popular Patristics Series 50; Yonkers, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2013), 79.

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