Origins of the term
Disputes raged in 11th century
Constantinople about which of the three hierarchs was the greatest. Some argued that Basil was superior to the other two because of his explanations of Christian faith and monastic example. Supporters of John Chrysostom countered that the "Golden Mouthed" (
archbishop of Constantinople was unmatched in both eloquence and in bringing sinners to repentance. A third group insisted that Basil's close friend, Gregory the Theologian, was preferred to the others due to the majesty, purity and profundity of his
homilies and his defense of the faith from the
Arian heresy. All three have separate
feast days in January: Basil on January 1, Gregory on January 25, and Chrysostom on January 27. The Eastern Churches teach that the three hierarchs appeared together in a vision to St.
John Mauropous, bishop of
Euchaita, in the year 1084, and said that they were equal before God: "There are no divisions among us, and no opposition to one another." As a result, a January 30 feast day commemorating all three in common was instituted around 1100 under the
Alexios I Komnenos.