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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas was born to a wealthy Christian Greek family in the city of Patara in ca. 280 AD. Patara is a port on the south-west coast of Lycia on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey near the modern small town of GelemiƟ.

St. Nicholas lived most of his life in the nearby town of Myra.

He suffered persecution under the Emperor Diocletian, who exiled and imprisoned Nicholas. During this period he suffered a broken nose.

A 13th-century depiction of St. Nicholas from Saint Catherine's Monastery, Sinai

As Bishop of Myra, he is believed to have attended the Council of Nicaea in 325, at which the date of Christmas as December 25 was fixed.

According to research on his bones in 2005, St Nicholas was five feet tall.

Many stories, some miraculous, are told about Nicholas. On one occasion he brought back to life three children, who had been killed by a malicious butcher during a famine. They had been placed in a barrel to be cured and sold as ham.

Saint Nicholas is also said to have helped three poor girls who couldn't afford a dowry to get married by throwing purses of money through their window. The idea of Santa Claus coming down chimneys to deliver presents has its origin in that story.

The dowry for the three virgins (Gentile da Fabriano, c. 1425, Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome).

Saint Nicholas died on December 6, 343 AD. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting silver coins in the shoes of his followers, and during the Middle Ages, this practice was celebrated in many European countries on his feast day.

Saint Nicholas' feast day of December 6th was celebrated in Holland with the giving of gifts to children who behaved well. Dutch immigrants brought St. Nicholas, known to them as "Sinterklaas", and traditions of his feast day to their colonies in America. He became popularized there as Santa Claus and his gift-giving day moved from December 6 to Christmas Day.

Before chimneys became common in Europe, it was said that St. Nicholas came in through the window.


The earliest depictions of Santa Claus have him wearing a green cloak.. His modern image, with flying reindeer and entry down chimneys, began with Clement Clarke Moore’s poem A Visit From St Nicholas which was published anonymously in the Troy, New York Sentinel on December 23, 1823.


Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors. He also been claimed as a patron saint of many diverse groups such as merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers and pawnbrokers as well as in various cities and countries around Europe.

A watery liquid known as 'manna' is said to be exuded from St Nicholas's bones in Myra, and a flask of it is collected on December 6 every year.

Source Daily Express

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