December 6th is the Feast Day of St. Nicholas of Myra
Today the Holy Church rejoices to remember Nicholas of Myra, Pastor & Bishop
Of the many saints commemorated by the Christian Church, Nicholas (d. AD 342) is one of the best known. Very little is known historically of him, thought there was a church of Saint Nicholas in Constantinople as early as the sixth century. Research has affirmed that there was a bishop by the name of Nicholas in the city of Myra in Lycia (part of modern Turkey) in the fourth century. From that coastal region, legends about Nicholas have traveled throughout time and space. He is associated with the charitable giving in many countries around the world the rescuer of sailors, the protector of children, and the friend of people in need or distress. In commemoration of Sinte Klaas (Dutch for “Saint Nicholas”, in English “Santa Claus”), December 6 is a day for giving and receiving gifts in many parts of Europe.
The stories of Nicholas’ kindness to the poor became well-known throughout Christendom. Perhaps most famous was the account of the poor man who had three daughters but no dowry to give any of them. The girls most likely would have ended up in slavery or prostitution. But the kind bishop, hearing of their plight, used funds from the church to secure their freedom from such a cruel fate. Under the cover of night, he dropped into the house small bags of gold coins. According to some accounts, all three were delivered at once; according to others, the bags were delivered to each the day before a given daughter came of age. Either way, the young ladies were able to marry and thus rescued from lives of disgrace and hardship. Because of the help given to the three daughters for their dowry, the saint came to be associated in many places with charitable giving and also with a special love for the Lord’s little ones.
Tradition states that he was among the fathers who gathered for the first council of Nicea and was a staunch anti-Arian. Nicholas confessed boldly the full deity of the eternal Word. Much later tradition tells that at the council he actually struck the heretic Arius, but this is apparently a medieval tradition.
What lives on in the Church is a day to celebrate a man of orthodox faith and devout prayer, shaped by the love of Christ, who delighted to bestow gifts to bless children.
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, You bestowed upon Your servant Nicholas of Myra the perpetual gift of charity. Grant Your Church the grace to deal in generosity and love with children and with all who are poor and distressed and to plead the cause of those who have no helper, especially those tossed by tempests doubt or grief. We ask this for the sake of Him who gave His life for us, Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Scott Murray, “A Year with the Church Fathers”
Rev. William Weedon, “Celebrating the Saints”