Saturday, December 06, 2014

St. Nicholas: Model of Charity

Saint Nicholas was born in the village of Patara in Asia Minor (now the southern coast of Turkey) about the middle of the third century. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young.

Later he was ordained a priest, and when the bishop of his district died, he was made Bishop of Myra. Saint Nicholas is distinguished for his great faith. His faith was so great, that with his prayer he calmed a stormy sea while on a trip to the Holy Lands. For this reason sailors pay homage to him as their protector.

He is particularly well known for his charity and his love for children. He used his great wealth to assist all who were in need: poor families, widows, and especially orphans and poor children. As Bishop, he established a poorhouse and a hospital.

Perhaps the best-known story about Nicholas concerns his charity toward a poor man who was unable to provide dowries for his three daughters, who were all hoping to be married. Rather than see them forced into prostitution, Nicholas secretly tossed a bag of gold through the poor man’s window on three separate occasions, thus enabling the daughters to be married. Over the centuries, this particular legend evolved into the custom of gift-giving on the saint’s feast.

He was the personification of Christian love and affection. As such he is honored by all the Christian world, both the Eastern and the Western.

In the West especially, he is considered the great patron Saint of children and the cheerful giver of gifts under the name Santa Claus.

He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, San Nicola in Bari, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This oily liquid substance, which is said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas.

Patron: against imprisonment; against robberies; against robbers; apothecaries; bakers; barrel makers; boatmen; boot blacks; boys; brewers; brides; captives; children; coopers; dock workers; druggists; fishermen; grooms; judges; lawsuits lost unjustly; longshoremen; maidens; mariners; merchants; murderers; newlyweds; parish clerks; paupers; pawnbrokers; perfumeries; perfumers; pharmacists; pilgrims; poor people; prisoners; sailors; scholars; schoolchildren; shoe shiners; spinsters; students; thieves; travellers; unmarried girls; watermen; Greek Catholic Church in America; Greek Catholic Union; Bari, Italy; Fossalto, Italy; Duronia, Italy; Portsmouth, England; Greece; Lorraine; Russia; Sicily.

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