St. Nicholas

St_-Nicholas 3[Another installment of “How Do My Family and Friends Compare With Their Patron Saints?” Posting Tues. and Thurs. Will you be next?]

There are at least two saints by the name of Nicholas. St. Nicholas of Owens (1559-1829) was an artisan who built secret hiding places for priests during an era of Christian persecution. He was a layman who was known for receiving the Holy Eucharist (Communion) and praying to gain strength and insight before each of his projects.

The second St. Nicholas is the one most people know about, the St. Nicholas who by translation of languages eventually became known as Santa Claus. This is the St. Nicholas that I think about whenever I hear the saying: Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime. 

The St.Nicholas who became Santa Claus was a 4th century bishop of Myra, Asia Minor (present day Turkey). He was known for his generosity, especially to the poor. Like many of us, he gave food, clothing, and toys to children–and they ate for the day.

But the story of this St.Nicholas that I admire the most, is about a poor man he knew. The man’s wife had died, leaving him with three adolescent daughters and no resources for a dowry for any of them. Without a dowry, the young women would never be chosen for marriage, and therefore, were destined to live as prostitutes to survive. As each daughter came of age, St. Nicholas threw a bag of gold coins through the window of their cottage to provide a dowry–addressing the problem that made it possible for them to eat physically, emotionally, and spiritually for a lifetime.

St. Nicholas’ feast day is December 6–considered Little Christmas in Dutch countries because small gifts are exchanged in the saint’s honor before the Christ child is honored during the Christmas season Dec. 25-January 6.

The name Nicholas comes from Niki (victory) and laos (people), therefore one who is victorious with people. And although I don’t know any family member or friend named Nicholas, I sure know a lot of people who can be a St. Nicholas to others–for a day and for a lifetime.


Image accessed 12-02-2015 from yahoo

One thought on “St. Nicholas”

  1. I love reading the history, aka “fun facts” of the heroes we honor. Thank you for this timely tribute to a big fan of St. Nicholas.

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