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December 6

St Nicholas of Myra painting by Jaroslav_Čermák - December 6

Saint Nicholas of Myra

Bishop

(Around 270 – Around 343)

Children, I beseech you to correct your hearts and thoughts, so that you may be pleasing to God. Consider that although we may reckon ourselves to be righteous and frequently succeed in deceiving men, we can conceal nothing from God.

Saint Nicholas of Myra

Saint’s Life Story

His Youth 

Nicholas was born in the third century around 270 in the village of Patara in Asia Minor. At the time, the area was Greek.  Now, it is on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents raised him to be a devout Christian. But, they died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra, Lycia (modern Turkey) while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

Nicholas suffered for his faith. He was exiled and imprisoned by the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. “Nicholas of Myra of Lycia” appears on one of the earliest and most reliable lists of the Bishops at Nicea.

Nicholas died December 6, 343 in Myra, Lycia (in modern Turkey).  He was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas.

First Legend  

There are several legends about Saint Nicholas. Here it is told by Jacob of Voragine in his famed thirteenth-century book of saints, The Golden Legend:

One of his neighbors, a nobleman, was so poor that he planned to deliver his three daughters to prostitution in order to make a living from the profits of their shame.

When Nicholas heard of this, he was horrified at the thought of such a sin. Wrapping a lump of gold in cloth, during the night he threw it through a window in his neighbor’s house. Then he fled without being seen. The next morning the man found the bundle of gold. Thanking God, he immediately arranged for his eldest daughter’s marriage.

Second Legend  

A while later, St. Nicholas did the same thing a second time. Finding the gold, the neighbor broke out into great songs of praise. He determined in the future to watch and discover who was thus coming to the relief of his poverty.

A few days later a bundle of gold twice as large was thrown into his house. He heard the noise it made falling and set out in pursuit of Nicholas. He begged him to stop so he could see his face. He ran so fast that he caught up with the young man and recognized him. Throwing himself before him, he tried to kiss his feet. But Nicholas declined his thanks. He exacted a promise that the man would keep the secret of his deed until after his death.

Threes in his Legends 

“Threes” also play a role in other St. Nicholas legends. Nicholas is said to have personally obtained at Myra the release of three innocent men. And he miraculously appeared to the Emperor Constantine to rescue from death three falsely accused imperial officers. These latter reportedly had witnessed his intervention for the three men at Myra and had prayed for God to send Nicholas to their aid.

The legend of the three gold bundles is probably behind the tradition of giving gifts on Nicholas’s feast day and at Christmas. This tradition originated in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Dutch settlers in the United States transformed St. Nicholas into the Santa Claus who now helps us celebrate the birth of Christ.

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:         December 6

Patron Saint:    Children, Greece, Russia, Sailors

Source:

Reflection

Saint  Nicholas of Myra lived for God in a life filled with love. If people were in need, you helped them, giving  hope and strength to all you encountered. You never paused for a minute to wonder what you should receive in return for your help. You only thought about what you could give to those who needed your help. Saint Nicholas you showed your gratitude for God’s gifts by giving to others.

What gifts of gratitude can you share with those in need at Christmas and every day of the year?

Prayers

Saint Nicholas, your service as a bishop included not only teaching correctly the mysteries of our faith, but also, generous and humble charity in alleviating the material needs of your neighbor. Help all of us to combine good theology with Christian action like you did at Christmas and all year round.

Saint Nicholas of Myra, pray for us. Amen.

Source: Saint Nicholas, Bishop – Saint of the Day from My Catholic Life!

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Is this the face of Santa Claus?

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 6 December – St Nicholas (270-343) Bishop

Bartleby.com – Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume XII: December. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. December 6 St. Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra, Confessor

Catholic Culture – Catholic Prayer: Collect for Saint Nicholas of Myra, Bishop and Confessor, 1962

Catholic Exchange – St. Nicholas: A Patron Saint for Children

Catholic Ireland – Dec 6 – St Nicholas – Santa Claus!

Catholic News Agency – St. Nicholas of Myra Feast Day: Dec 06

Catholic Online – St. Nicholas

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Nicholas of Myra

Franciscan Media – Saint Nicholas

My Catholic Life – Saint Nicholas, Bishop

New Advent – Ott, M. (1911). St. Nicholas of Myra. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Newman Ministry – Saint Nicholas

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint Nicholas’ Story

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Nicholas (d.346)

St. Nicholas Center – Who is St. Nicholas?

uCatholic – Saint Nicholas

Wikipedia – Saint Nicholas

Video Link

St Nicholas – YouTube Video (Catholic Online)