Shrine of St Nicholas, Bari. Photo by Mr G
SAINT NICHOLAS. Feast day 6th December
A story told by Victor Hoagland, C.P.
Saint Nicholas, the 4th century saint who inspired our modern figure of Santa Claus, was born near Myra, a port on the Mediterranean Sea serving the busy sea lanes that linked the seaports of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Ships sailing these waters, laden with grain and all kinds of goods, found safety in the port from raging storms and menacing pirates.
Nicholas came from one of the city’s wealthy merchant families, but he was not spoiled by his family’s wealth. His mother and father taught him to be generous to others, especially those in need. So Nicholas came to see that helping others makes one richer in life than anything else.
One day, by chance, Nicholas heard about a rich man in Myra who lost all his money when his business failed. The man had three lovely daughters, all wishing to get married, but he had no money for their marriage. Besides, who would marry them, he thought, since their father is such a failure? With nothing to eat, the man in desperation decided to sell one of his daughters into slavery. At least then the rest of them might survive.
That night before the first daughter was to be sold, Nicholas, with a small bag of gold in his hand, softly approached their house, and, tossing the gold through an open window, quickly vanished into the darkness.
The next morning, the father found a bag of gold lying on the floor next to his bed. He had no idea where it came from. “Maybe it’s counterfeit,” he thought. But as he tested it, he knew it was real. He went over the list of his friends and business associates. None of them could possibly have given him this.
The poor man fell to his knees and great tears came to his eyes. He thanked God for this beautiful gift. His spirits rose higher than they had been for a long time because someone had been so unexpectedly good to him. He arranged for his first daughter’s wedding and there was enough money left for the rest of them to live for almost a year. Often he wondered: who gave them the gold?
But by the end of the year, the family again had nothing, and the father, again desperate and seeing no other way open, decided his second daughter must be sold. But Nicholas, hearing about it, came by night to their window and tossed in another bag of gold as before. The next morning the father rejoiced, and, thanking God, begged His pardon for losing hope. Who, though, was the mysterious stranger giving them such a gift?
Each night afterwards the father watched by the window. As the year passed their money ran out. In the dead of one night he heard quiet steps approaching his house and suddenly a bag of gold fell onto the floor. The father quickly ran out to catch the one who threw it there. He caught up with Nicholas some distance away and recognized him, for the young man came from a well-known family in the city.
“Why did you give us the gold?” the father asked.
“Because you needed it,” Nicholas answered.
“But why didn’t you let us know who you were?” the man asked again.
“Because it’s good to give and have only God know about it.”
Because of his kind , generous and loving nature, he was later elected as Bishop of Myra. His shrine is in the Church at Bari, in Puglia, Italy, cared for by members of the Orthodox Church.
Today he is known to children as Santa Claus (derived from Saint Nicholas)
Chocolate Gold coins are popular at Christmas. It has been suggested that these are symbols of St. Nicholas’s gift
Father Victor Hoagland, C.P.
Father Victor Hoagland, C.P. is a Catholic priest and a member of the Passionist community. He resides at the Immaculate Conception Monastery, Jamaica, New York. He’s the author of numerous spiritual books and videos, among them: The Book of Saints, Following Jesus Christ, Mary the Mother of God, Daily Prayers, The Way of the Cross and Pilgrim Churches of Rome.
Father Victor is a blogger and writes online at The Victor’s Place. You can hear him read this story, with illustrations, on YouTube.
Click on this link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADevygB9jNs
“God is our life,
God is our fulfillment,
in Christ God comes to give us life
and life to the full.”