St. Nicholas of Myra (March 15, 270 – December 6, 343)
Feast Day: December 6
Patron Saint: Children, Sailors, and Repentant Thieves, to name but a few
When many people think of Saint Nicholas, they usually imagine a jolly fellow in a red suit with a white beard and rosy cheeks. But in reality, the Saint Nick of history is a whole other ball of wax. The real Saint Nicholas was born in what is modern-day Turkey. His parents were devout in their Catholic faith. But they died when Nicholas was still young. He was raised by his uncle, also named Nicholas, who was the Bishop of Patara. When Nicholas came of age, his uncle ordained him a priest.
Saint Nicholas’ star rose fast. He was elected Bishop of Myra. And in 325, he was one of the many bishops to attend the First Council of Nicaea. At the council, Nicholas was a staunch defender of Christ’s divinity against the claims of the priest Arius, who said that Jesus Christ the Son was subordinate to God the Father. Arius was deemed a heretic, and has become a footnote in history.
Many miracles and legends have been attributed to the intercession of Saint Nicholas during his lifetime, as well as in death. One miracle was that through his prayers, he resurrected three boys that were murdered by a butcher during a time of famine.
Another, says that Saint Nicholas helped a poor man who could not afford the dowries for his three daughters. Under the cover of night, Saint Nicholas threw three purses into the man’s window thereby allowing his daughters to be married.
Another miracle, had Saint Nicholas bilocating. During the Council of Nicaea, Saint Nicholas fell asleep. While asleep, a boat was shipwrecked out at sea. The sailors were saved by a mysterious man. For falling asleep, the council fathers chastised him. But when the sailors arrived on land and recognized Saint Nicholas as their savior, he was exonerated.
In 1087, sailors from Bari (Puglia, Italy), brought a majority of Saint Nicholas’ remains back to Bari. A Basilica was built in Saint Nicholas’ honor. In Italy, he is known as San Nicola di Bari. Many of the faithful make pilgrimages to venerate the remains of this great saint.
Saint Nicholas is a lot more than a jolly, old elf who delivers presents to the good boys and girls on Christmas. He was a righteous and pious bishop and a defender of the faith that he cherished.
Tagged: 4th Century, archbishop, Bari, bishop, children, Feast Day, First Council of Nicaea, Θεοφάνης, Νόννα, Manna di San Nicola, Nicene Creed, Nonna, patron, patron saint, sailors, San Nicola, Sanctus Nicolaus, Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, St. Nick, Theophanes, Turkey, veneration