Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Saint Nicholas: Bishop of Myra

Yes, there was a Santa Claus, though it is difficult to separate the facts from the legends.

Mostly recognized as the patron saint of children and sailors in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Nicholas of Myra was born in the village of Patara (Asia Minor) in the third century to a Christian family. Apparently, an epidemic of some sort afflicted his family and left him as an orphan.

Nicholas became the bishop of Myra during a time of persecution under Emperor Diocletian. According to some sources, Nicholas was indeed a “secret giver”, and there is historical merit to some of the legendary stories about his giving. In one story, a wealthy man with three daughters fell on hard times, and was unable to provide a dowry for his children. Since girls without dowries back then were unlikely to marry, the man’s daughters faced the prospect of being sold into slavery. It is said in one account that each daughter was given a bag of gold in her stocking. Nicholas was known for giving to poor children, rescuing some drowning sailors, appealing to the emperor for tax relief, and intervening on behalf of those who were accused unjustly.

He also appeared to be a great defender of the faith, having destroyed the pagan Temple of Artemis, and fighting Arianism as a participant in the Council of Nicea.

An interesting looking movie about the life of Nicholas of Myra is set for release for Christmas in 2008. See trailer:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking a couple of weeks ago that this movie ought to be made!

I'll be counting the minutes . . .

John D. Chitty
The Misadventures of Captain Headknowledge