Saint Nikòlaos de Bari, Bishop de Myra

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Nikòlaos de Bari

Also Known As: "Kris Kringle", "Santa Claus", "Sinterklaas", "St. Nick", "Father Christmas", "Saint Nicholas", "Nikolaos the Wonderworker"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Parara, Lycia, Asia Minor, Tyrkia
Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of Theophanes / Epiphanus and Nonna / Johanna

Occupation: Protector of Children, Gift Giver
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Saint Nikòlaos de Bari, Bishop de Myra

Saint Nicholas of Myra was born in Lycia, Asia Minor, and died as Bishop of Myra in 352. He performed many miracles and exercised a special power over flames. He practiced both the spiritual and temporal works of mercy, and fasted twice a week. When he heard that a father who had fallen into poverty was about to expose his three daughters to a life of sin, Nicholas took a bag of gold and secretly flung it through the window into the room of the sleeping father. In this way, the three girls were dowered and saved from mortal sin and hell.

Biography

Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra, is undoubtedly one of the most popular saints honored in the Western world. In the United States, his memory has survived in the unique personality of Saint Claus — the jolly, rotund, white-bearded gentleman who captivates children with promises of gifts on Christmas Eve. Considered primarily as the patron saint of children, Nicholas is also invoked by sailors, merchants, bakers, travelers and pawnbrokers, and with Saint Andrew is honored as the co-patron of Russia.

In spite of his widespread fame, Saint Nicholas, from the historian's point of view, is hardly more than a name. He was born in the last years of the third century in Asia Minor. His uncle, the archbishop of Myra in Lycia, ordained him and appointed him abbot of a nearby monastery. At the death of the archbishop, Nicholas was chosen to fill the vacancy, and he served in this position until his death. About the time of the persecutions of Diocletian, he was imprisoned for preaching Christianity but was released during the reign of Emperor Constantine.

Popular legends have involved Saint Nicholas in a number of charming stories, one of which relates Nicholas' charity toward the poor. A man of Patara had lost his fortune, and finding himself unable to support his three maiden daughters, was planning to turn them into the streets as prostitutes. Nicholas heard of the man's intentions and secretly threw three bags of gold through a window into the home, thus providing dowries for the daughters. The three bags of gold mentioned in this story are said to be the origin of the three gold balls that form the emblem of pawnbrokers.

After Nicholas' death on December 6 in or around 345, his body was buried in the cathedral at Myra. It remained there until 1087, when seamen of Bari, an Italian coastal town, seized the relics of the saint and transferred them to their own city. Veneration for Nicholas had already spread throughout Europe as well as Asia, but this occurrence led to a renewal of devotion in the West. Countless miracles were attributed to the saint's intercession. His relics are still preserved in the church of San Nicola in Bari; an oily substance, known as Manna di S. Nicola, which is highly valued for its medicinal powers, is said to flow from them.

The story of Saint Nicholas came to America in distorted fashion. The Dutch Protestants carried a popularized version of the saint's life to New Amsterdam, portraying Nicholas as nothing more than a Nordic magician and wonder-worker. Our present-day conception of Santa Claus has grown from this version. Catholics should think of Nicholas as a saint, a confessor of the faith and the bishop of Myra — not merely as a jolly man from the North Pole who brings happiness to small children. Many countries and locations honor St. Nicholas as patron: Greece, Russia, the Kingdom of Naples, Sicily, Lorraine, and many cities in Italy, Germany, Austria, and Belgium.

  • Taken in part from Lives of the Saints for every day of the Year, Volume III © 1959, by The Catholic Press, Inc.

Patron: against imprisonment; against robberies; against robbers; apothecaries; bakers; barrel makers; boatmen; boot blacks; boys; brewers; brides; captives; children; coopers; dock workers; druggists; fishermen; grooms; judges; lawsuits lost unjustly; longshoremen; maidens; mariners; merchants; murderers; newlyweds; old maids; parish clerks; paupers; pawnbrokers; perfumeries; perfumers; pharmacists; pilgrims; poor people; prisoners; sailors; scholars; schoolchildren; shoe shiners; spinsters; students; thieves; travellers; unmarried girls; watermen; Greek Catholic Church in America; Greek Catholic Union; Bari, Italy; Fossalto, Italy; Duronia, Italy; Portsmouth, England; Greece; Lorraine; Russia; Sicily;

Symbols: Three children in a trough or tub; three golden balls on a book; six golden balls; three golden apples; three loaves; three purses or bags of gold; anchor; ship; Trinity symbol on a cope; angel; small church; three balls;

Often Portrayed As: Bishop with three children in a tub at his feet; Bishop calming a storm; bishop holding three balls; bishop holding three bags of gold; bishop with three children.

Other interesting facts

When scientists were allowed to look at the remains of Saint Nicholas, they noticed he was a tiny man, barely 5 feet tall, with scar tissue on his nose from a previous nasal fracture.

Santa Claus

TBA

Sources

Most information comes from St. Nicholas Center. Other information comes from sites sharing similar information.

See also

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Saint Nikòlaos de Bari, Bishop de Myra's Timeline

270
March 15, 270
Parara, Lycia, Asia Minor, Tyrkia
277
277
- present
Age 6
Pedagogue
300
300
- present
Age 29
Demire, Turkey
303
303
- 311
Age 32

Myra was an important city. Nicholas was a good bishop. He was known for his piety and zeal for Jesus, and when he taught the Gospel, people said it was like precious gems. He was equally concerned about the poor and needy and helping children and others in trouble. He set a constant example, often helping people in secret ways. Many pagan people were converted and baptized through his loving ministry.

But soon, Nicholas, now a young man was himself imprisoned. The new Roman Emperor Diocletian hated Christians, and was determined to hunt them all down and kill them or make them deny their faith. This was sometime between 303 and 311 AD. This was one of the greatest persecutions of the church, and many Christians were cruelly murdered. There were three jailers guarding him, maybe more. They tried and tried to convince Nicholas to deny his faith in Jesus. They tortured him. He was hungry and cold and wearing chains. But he taught them about Jesus. He was kind to them despite all their insults. His hair and beard grew long and shaggy, but he trusted Jesus to protect him, and prayed for the other Christians to stand firm.

Then a miracle happened. There was a new Emperor. His name was Constantine. He had a dream that he would conquer through Christ, and he had become a Christian. He made Christianity the official religion. Nicholas and the other Christians were set free. Bishop Nicholas went back to his people in Myra. Many people were converted to believe in Jesus.

325
325
Age 54
Iznik, Bursa, Türkiye

Bishop Nicholas, defender of the faith, forcefully argued for the doctrine of the Holy Trinity at the Council of Nicaea. The council's statement forms part of the Nicene Creed, still said in churches today.

343
December 6, 343
Age 73
Demre, Antalya, Türkiye

Bishop Nicholas died on December 6, 343 AD, and was buried in the cathedral in Myra, now Demre, Turkey. Many pilgrims came to his tomb.

352
December 6, 352
Age 82
400
400
Age 82

Since the fifth century the Eastern Church has revered St. Nicholas for the many miracles attributed to him and for his inspiring witness as a follower of Jesus Christ.

987
987
Age 82

Following his baptism in Constantinople, Grand Prince Vladimir I brought Christianity and St. Nicholas to Russia. St. Nicholas is Russia's favorite saint.

1087
1087
Age 82
Bari, Puglia, Italia

Italian sailors took the bones of St. Nicholas to Bari, Italy. This "translation of the relics" is commemorated in Bari with a fantastic festival each year on May 9th.