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St. Nicholas, Wonderworker

Friday, December 6th, 2019

Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra in Asia Minor, is one of the most popular Saints, especially among Eastern Christians. His name is equally honored among the Christians of the East, where he lived and died, and of the West, where his precious and venerable relics, which secrete a miraculous ointment, called “Manna of St. Nicholas”, are preserved.

According to tradition, St. Nicholas of Myra was born about 270 A. D. in Patara, a small town in the province of Lycia (presently in Turkey), the only son of a rich family. Attracted to the religious life, he spurned his inherited wealth and used it for charitable work, for which he became famous from his youth.

At the time of Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337), he, by Divine intervention, was elected Archbishop of Myra, the capital city of Lycia, called Dembre by the Turks. He strongly defended the faith at the Nicean Council (325) and protected his flock from paganism and the Arian heresy. He assisted the poor, protected the innocent, comforted the suffering and the sick.

There are many miracles ascribed to St. Nicholas. Today it is impossible to draw a line between factual history and pious imagination of hagiographers, who tried to idealize his angelic virtues and charitable works. The principal miracles ascribed to St. Nicholas by constant tradition are these:

  • St. Nicholas, by his prayer during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, calmed a violent storm on the open sea, and prevented certain shipwreck;

  • St. Nicholas, appearing in a dream to emperor Constantine, warned him of pending injustice and saved three innocent officers from execution;

  • St. Nicholas, blessed with the charism of healing, restored health to innumerable people suffering from incurable diseases;

  • St. Nicholas, warned by God, secretly provided a dowry to three poor girls, destined by their own father to a public-house of a sin to provide him with a steady income. Not to expose the father’s sinful design, the Saint secretly, during the night, left a bag of gold pieces for each girl as a dowry for them and to enable each of them to lead an honest life.

He died on December 6, 345 or 352, and is commemorated in the liturgical calendar on the anniversary of his holy death.

St. Nicholas stands out in the Church as a “model of faith and an example of virtue”. He is called the Wonderworker. His greatness lies neither in theological works nor in writings. He is personification of a shepherd, a defender, and an intercessor. For us, Nicholas is a man of faith. He shows us what humility is and teaches us the values of moderation and poverty. All generations have acknowledged him as a holy bishop

With St. Nicholas we stand in faith and worship, seeing him as a model for our Christian lives and a model for Christian leadership. We ask him to pray to Christ for us.

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