The Three Hierarchs/St. Basil the Great




  1. For these youngest children, concentrate on St. Basil the Great – his life and how he served the Lord.
  2. Students should know that the other two hierarchs are St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom.. What do they remember from last week’s lesson?
  3. Students should know the word “hierarch” and that it means bishop.



Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.
  2. Tell the story of St. Basil:

Basil was born in the city of Caesarea some 300 years after the time of Christ. He was raised by his grandmother, Macrina, who told him and his brothers and sisters about how his grandfather had been killed by lions because of his faith in Jesus. Basil wondered about this. Why would someone waste his life for just a belief?

When Basil grew up, he went to study in the great university at Athens. There he began to think that he was very wise and argued with the other students about all sorts of things, forgetting about Jesus. Then, one day, a messenger ran up. He told Basil that his brother Naucratius had died all of a sudden. Basil could hardly believe the news. He went right away to Caesarea. Here he realized that Naucratius, while not as smart as Basil, had shown love and joy in his whole life because of Jesus. Basil prayed and told God he was sorry he had forgotten the teachings of his grandmother about Jesus. Now, Basil was ready to serve the Lord, but how and where would he go?

Basil first went to the desert. There he learned about men who served the Lord alone in the wilderness. Do you remember a woman who also did this? Basil decided to begin a monastery – a place where men called monks could live a life of prayer and holiness together. They wore simple clothes and raised their own food. Every day they would pray, but they would also serve the poor and needy. Basil started hospitals and homes for old people and orphanages for children with his monks. The rule of St. Basil (Does your family have rules?) about how to run a monastery is still followed all over the world today.

Then, Basil went home to Caesarea. There he was ordained a priest. One day during Liturgy, the earth began to shake. It was an earthquake! (Try some sound effects and shaking here.) The whole church fell down around Basil, but he was protected by the Lord. The whole city had fallen down and was on fire (Build a city of blocks and knock it over?). Basil gathered the Christians and took care of people who were hurt and brought food for the hungry. Because of his loving service, Basil became bishop of Caesarea. Once, when people had no money or food, Basil asked the rich people for some money and had bakers make loaves of bread with the money inside! He gave it to the poor people. Many people remember this by making a special bread called “Vasilopita”, or Basil’s bread.

Meanwhile, in other cities, many people began to leave the true teachings of the church and believe the false teachings of a man called Arius. Do you remember him? He taught that Jesus was not God but some sort of superman. Even the new emperor believed the teachings of Arius. Basil was arrested by the soldiers and taken before the emperor. Would he, like his grandfather, have to die for his beliefs? He stood, an old man, before the emperor and proposed to test whose belief was right. The church doors were closed and everyone moved away. Whoever’s prayers God answered would be allowed to worship. First, the Arians would pray and see if the church doors would open; they prayed and nothing happened. Then, Basil prayed and the doors opened all by themselves! Basil and the true Christians were safe from the emperor. God’s power was proof.

In the last years of his life, Basil wrote many books, taught in the monastery, and cared for the poor. He wrote down the Divine Liturgy known to this day as the Liturgy of St. Basil and celebrated on many feast days of the year. (Whose liturgy is celebrated most of the time?)


Add the Three Hierarchs to your timeline.


  1. Feed the Elephant True/False Questions:

True                                                     False

            Basil was born in Caesarea.                            Basil was born in Jerusalem.

            Basil began the first monastery.                      Basil began the first desert.

            Basil was saved in an earthquake.                  Basil was killed by an earthquake.

            The church doors opened when Basil             Basil was killed by the emperor.



  1. Discuss hospitals a bit: Who goes to a hospital? What do they do there? Have any of the children been to a hospital? As a visitor? As a patient? Let them share their experiences. What would it be like to have no hospitals? Basil founded the first hospitals, as well as the first monasteries. The monks cared for the sick people. Who care for the sick people today? Does anyone know a doctor or a nurse?


  1. Make Vasilopita:

Mix ½ cup warm water, 1-2 pkg quick dry yeast, 2T sugar and let yeast get bubbly.

Mix ½ cup melted butter, 3 eggs, 2 cups warm milk, ½ tsp salt, 1 cup sugar, ½ tsp

      cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp grated orange peel.

Add yeast mixture.

Add about 6 cups flour and knead till nice elastic dough.

Bring it to church and allow to rise during Liturgy to double its size in warm place.

Give each child a piece of bread or dough for one small loaf and knead it. They love kneading. Be sure to wash hands first. Then, give each child a carefully washed coin and have him insert it into his loaf. Paint on egg coating and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Let each child decorate with a cross of sliced almonds and cinnamon stencils. Put each loaf on a small aluminum pan for the child to take home if you can’t let it rise for 30-60 minutes in Church School. Bake at 350 degrees until done. The family should share the bread and the lucky person who gets the coin gets to keep it!


  1. Close with prayer: Lord, help me to care for the sick and the poor as did Basil. Think for a moment about special ways to do this – can your class collect canned goods this week or visit a nursing home. We will make “homeless bags” after Church School in the hall; encourage the children to stay and participate. They can even bake their breads while helping!