Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Happy Saint Nicholas Day!!!

Tomorrow is December 6, the Feast of Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was born in the 200's in what is now the southern coast of Turkey. Orphaned when he was still young, he donated all his money to help the needy, sick and suffering.

He was made Bishop of Myra while still young, and was imprisoned by the Emperor Diocletian. He was released, and attended the Council of Nicaea (from which we get the Nicean Creed).

He died on December 6, 343. After his death, water formed in his grave that had healing powers. This happened when his grave was in Myra, and it continued to occur after his grave was transferred to Bari, Italy. Local artists in Italy paint bottles with images of the saint in which to collect the water, which is extracted from the site every May 9, on the Feast of the Translation of the relics from Myra to Bari.

There are many stories of Saint Nicholas' generosity and protection. One story tells of Nicholas putting bags of money into the stockings (or shoes) of the daughters of a poor man, so that the young women could marry and not be sold into prostitution. Legend says that this is why we hang stockings on Christmas eve.

In some countries, children put out their shoes the night before the feast (that would be tonight!) for St. Nicholas to fill them. Bags of gold chocolate coins are sometimes put in the shoes to commemorate St. Nicholas saving these three young women.

Another way to celebrate St. Nicholas day is to give your children religiously oriented gifts--perhaps gifts to help them remember the real meaning of Christmas, that can get overlooked in the seasonal excitement.

Check out the Saint Nicholas Center for information about Saint Nicholas and the traditions of his feast day.


Doug Barber said...

I believe that the Catholic church at the direction of recent Popes has given (or returned, depending on your point of view) some relics of St. Nicholas to the Orthodox church, in the person of the Patriarch of Constantinople. There's a delightful example of a "Christmas Gift", to my mind. May Catholic and Orthodox grown in understanding as we approach Christmas and Epiphany this year.

4HisChurch said...

Doug--that's great news.

Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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