St. Nicholas

Friends in Christ, today is the Feast of St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was born during the 3rd century, in present day Turkey, and it is the memory of this great saint which has led to the stories of Santa Claus. St. Nicholas is a saint and confessor of the Catholic Church, and also he is very revered among Orthodox Christians.
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Nicholas was a monk in the monastery of Holy Zion; widely known for sanctity, he was elected abbot, and then a bishop.
During the reign of Diocletian, he was put in prison for preaching the gospel, but later he was released when Constantine came to the throne. For this reason he is venerated as a Confessor of the Faith.
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Many miracles occurred in the life of St. Nicholas, and for this reason he is also called Nicholas the Wonderworker.
He was present at the great council of Nicea;[i] During the council, Arius the heretic, who denied that Jesus is truly God, stood up on his seat to be better heard. Enraged by this offense against Jesus Christ, Nicholas went quickly over to Arius pulled him down by his beard.[ii]
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But bishop Nicholas had a reputation for secret gift-giving; people in those days left their shoes outside the threshold of the house, and children would often find coins or candy in them from the kindly bishop.   Many continue this tradition in homes today.
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It is related that a poor man had three daughters but could not afford a dowry for them. They were soon tempted to support their family by illicit means. But Nicholas felt sad about this, and so he decided to help; under the cover of night, he went to the house and threw a bag of gold coins through the window into the room where the father lay sleeping. He did this on three consecutive nights, and one time, the gold landed right in the man’s stocking which was hanging up to dry by the fireplace.
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After Nicholas’ death, his relics were placed in the city of Myra, and were highly venerated. When the Muslims conquered Asia Minor, the relics were in danger of being lost forever, so in 1087 a courageous group of men in Naples made a plan to recover the relics. Sailing in 3 ships, they reached Myra, and secretly stole into the city. As they gathered the bones of Nicholas, they were discovered, but raced back to their ships just in time; they brought the relics to Bari. The next day, 30 persons were cured by intercession to St. Nicholas. An oily substance valued for its medicinal powers, still flows from his relics today.
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St. Nicholas is a great friend and intercessor; he is the patron saint of children, of sailors, and of many other causes. He truly is, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker.

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[i] and died as bishop of Myra in 352.

[ii] and punched him!

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