Who was Saint Nicholas?
St. Nicholas is a name known all over the world. But how much do people really know about the famous bishop?
Over the centuries, St. Nicholas has become more and more associated with Christmas and presents as the world has forgotten what he was really known for: his incredible holiness and devotion to the Faith.
St. Nicholas lived in the 4th century in what is now known as Turkey. He was fascinated with learning about the Faith, and fasted on both Wednesdays and Fridays. When his parents died, Nicholas was left with a good sum of money. He decided that this money would go towards charitable works. His first opportunity to help people was a man with three daughters. Nicholas heard of the man, who was penniless, and knew that his daughters did not have the money to find husbands. If the girls were unable to marry, they would soon face very difficult lives. One night, Nicholas took a bag of gold and tossed it into a window of the man’s house. He did this two more times, so that each girl would have a good sum of money. His selfless spirit and generous heart drew people to him.
Soon after this, Nicholas became a bishop. He lived at a time when Christians were greatly persecuted. Nicholas himself was captured and tortured. Other stories also tells us that Nicholas defended the Church against heresies, such as Arianism. Not only did Nicholas perform good works, but he is also attributed with many miracles, such as saving the life of a baby after he was burned in a fire. Another story tells of sailors who were out at sea one night in a terrible storm. They called out to Nicholas, and a man suddenly appeared, guiding the boat to safety. Later, when the men reached land, they went to church to thank God for sparing their lives. The men were shocked to see that the man celebrating Mass was the same man that had guided their boat. It was Nicholas. For this reason, St. Nicholas is the patron of sailors.
Even after the saint’s death, a miracle occurred, known as the “manna of St. Nicholas.” This is water that forms in the tomb where St. Nicholas is buried. The manna is considered a relic and many miracles have occurred through it. The feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated on December 6th.
Many traditions have evolved from the stories of St. Nicholas, and people still participate in them on the feast of St. Nicholas. One of these traditions traces back to the story of the man with the three daughters.
Like St. Nicholas, this is a tradition done in secret. A bag is filled with “gold coins” and these are given to neighbors, friends, family, etc., in honor of St. Nicholas. This is a great way to share the true stories of St. Nicholas!
There are many ways to create your “bags of gold.” The “bags” can be easily homemade.
The “gold coins” can be chocolate coins, treats, or even small cookies made to look like coins.
Be sure to include a note about the great saint!
Do you have a special tradition for the feast of St. Nicholas? Share your favorite story or miracle about him!
St. Nicholas, pray for us!