December 6, 2008

Happy Feast of Saint Nicholas!

Nicholas was the bishop of Myra in what is now the country of Turkey. He was known for his many and generous works towards the poor, and as the protector of the innocent and wronged. Nicholas lived during the persecutions of Diocletian and was exiled and imprisoned for his faith, which he refused to denounce. After he was released, Nicholas was able to attend the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. He died on December 6th, 346 AD in Myra.
There are many stories of the miracles and the generousity of St. Nicholas, some of which you may be familiar with:
  • Upon hearing that a local man had fallen on such hard times that he was planning to sell his daughters into prostitution, Nicholas went by night to the house and threw three bags of gold in through the window, saving the girls from an evil life. These three bags, gold generously given in time of trouble, became the three golden balls that indicate a pawn broker’s shop.
  • He raised to life three young boys who had been murdered and pickled in a barrel of brine to hide the crime. These stories led to his patronage of children in general, and of barrel-makers besides.
  • Induced some thieves to return their plunder. This explains his protection against theft and robbery, and his patronage of them - he’s not helping them steal, but to repent and change. In the past, thieves have been known as Saint Nicholas’ clerks or Knights of Saint Nicholas.
  • During a voyage to the Holy Lands, a fierce storm blew up, threatening the ship. He prayed about it, and the storm calmed - hence the patronage of sailors and those like dockworkers who work on the sea.
Due to the sailor's who claimed St. Nicholas as their patron, knowledge of and devotion to Nicholas spread to all of Europe. In memory of the story in which St. Nicholas secretly gave the bags of gold to the poor man's daughters, gift-giving on this Saint's feast has become a popular tradition all around the world.
Saint Nicholas is the patron of unmarried woman, sailors, captives, children, bakers, barrel makers, brides, grooms,newlyweds, old maids, penitent murders, pilgrims, poor people, scholers, schoolchildren and penitent thieves, among many other things.

St. Nicholas ... Pray for Us!

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