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Born: ~270
Died: ~343
FEast: Dec. 6th
Patron of:  
Children, sailors, finance, Merchants, Russia, Greece

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St. Nicholas
 

Bio

 

    Much of Nicholas' life story may be a legend, since sources cannot be confirmed as accurate, but his influence was so widespread that despite this, he has become one of the most well-known saints today.

Tradition holds that he was born on the coast of what is now Turkey to Greek Christian parents. His uncle may have been the Bishop of Myra, who raised him after both his parents died in an epidemic, and he may have also been the one to ordain Nicholas.

After his parents had passed, Nicholas gave away all his money to those in need. The most famous story of this, which gave way to his folkloric position as "Santa Claus" and various other traditional titles today, involves a man who had lost all his money and therefore was going to force his three daughters into prostitution. When Nicholas heard of this, he secretly threw a bag of money through the man's window that night so that the oldest daughter could instead get married. He did the same for the other two daughters later on.

Nicholas spent a good portion of his life, then, traveling throughout Egypt and Palestine visiting holy sites. A legend goes that he nearly shipwrecked while on these travels, but was saved when he commanded the waves to cease, making him a patron of sailors.

When he returned, Nicholas was made to be the new Bishop. It wasn't long into this new role that Diocletian became emperor, however, and Nicholas was imprisoned and tortured with many other Christians until Constantine became the new emperor.

As bishop, Nicholas not only took an outspoken role in the Church, but also likely participated in Church Councils. He was one of the bishops to sign the Nicene Creed, and a story also goes that he was so opposed to the ideas of Arianism and Trinitarianism brought up at the council that he slapped one of the proponents in the face. Some stories go that he was even imprisoned for such a thing for a short time.

Some miracle stories are attributed to Nicholas as well, including an odd one in which he resuscitated three children who were decapitated and put in a barrel of brine by an innkeeper. Another goes that he saved three men who were wrongfully condemned, coming in at the last minute and lowering the sword himself, and chastising the executioner for accepting a bribe. Yet another states that he miraculously multiplied the wheat on a boat during a famine.

Nicholas likely died and was buried in Myra, or in a small church on a nearby island. In 1078, Italian merchants stole the remains and took them to Bari, Italy. The new site of his burial quickly became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites. In the 1950s, medical examinations were made on the relics, and it was revealed that Nicholas had chronic arthritis and a broken nose, likely from the Diocletian persecution.

Prayer

 

As we all know the story of your angry slap, be with us when we feel our own righteous anger over injustice, lies, and evil-doing. Guide our anger into the right channels. and show us that our anger means we are awake and aware and can therefore use it to create positive change.

Amen.

Art Reflection

 

Nicholas' broken nose just had to be something I included in this image, as I pictured him as a "rough and tumble" kind of guy, anyway. he has a black eye as well and some chipped teeth either from his times in prison or as a backlash for his outburst at the council. He wears red plaid as a symbol of his later legends that would become "santa claus".

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