Each year as Advent begins, the church celebrates a saint whose life story forms the basis of the modern day Santa Claus. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, is remembered yearly on December 6th. Whether you are preaching, teaching, or celebrating at home, here are three, of the many, things we remember about St. Nicholas.
We Remember Nicholas for His Generosity
Nicholas was born in what is now Turkey to wealthy parents. He was born in to a devoutly Christian family, but unfortunately his parents both died while he was still a child. Nicholas took Jesus words, “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” literally. He dedicated his life to serving God, using his whole inheritance to help the sick and needy. Nicholas became well known for his generosity as well as his love for children and his concern for sailors and ships.
We Remember Nicholas for His Courage & Leadership
Nicholas became Bishop of Myra while still a young man. He served faithfully as a leader in the church, even through persecution. During the rule of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, Christians were ruthlessly persecuted. Like many others, Nicholas suffered for his faith. He was exiled and imprisoned. Despite his suffering, Nicholas did not abandon his work. After being released, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325.
We Remember Nicholas Through Stories
Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas’ life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so revered as protector and helper of those in need. Retelling the stories of St. Nicholas provides a good opportunity to talk about the importance of stories in our faith and tradition. Some of the Stories of St. Nicholas are outlandish and it is natural to ask, “Is that a true story?” One way of answering this question might be to discuss the differences between a factual story and a true story. The stories of St. Nicholas were passed down through oral tradition, so we don’t know if the facts in the stories are accurate. But when we look at all the collection of stories as a whole, we can say with reasonable certainly that there are some consistent truths about the character of St. Nicholas.
You can find some of the most famous stories of St. Nicholas compiled in this post from the St. Nicholas Center.
This article was adapted from material resources on the website of The St. Nicholas Center. The St. Nicholas Center is a virtual center, a website, where people can learn about St. Nicholas; it provides resources for families, churches, and schools. It also has a world-class professional traveling exhibit and offers display and activity kits appropriate for churches and schools.