The Feast of the Nativity of Saint Nicholas is widely observed in Russia. The feast day is August 11 on the Julian Calendar and July 29 on the Gregorian Calendar.
It feels like a miracle that our first post happenes to be written the same day.
For us this is indeed a very happy ''coincidence'', we trust in that we will be guided by God and his servant St.Nicholas in the work we will do on this blog.
* In the chapters to come, you will find out more about the life and works of Saint Nicholas, a strange link between his life and the times of the global epidemic we live in now, and at the end of the page, a small little prayer to the Saint will be placed so you could ask him to intercede for you and your dear ones in front of our God.
Who is St. Nicholas?
Wow! His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic ,while Nicholas was still young.
Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 19 on the Julian Calendar ( December 6th on the Gregorian Calendar)
Through the centuries Christian Tradition has kept many stories told of St. Nicholas’ life and deeds.
One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries - a requirement for marriage, were destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.
One of the oldest stories showing St. Nicholas as a protector of children takes place long after his death. The townspeople of Myra were celebrating the good saint on the eve of his feast day when a band of Arab pirates from Crete came into the district and stole from the Church of Saint Nicholas. As they were leaving town, they snatched a young boy, Basilios, to make into a slave. For Basilios’ parents, devastated at the loss of their only child, the year passed slowly, filled with grief. As the next St. Nicholas’ feast day approached, Basilios’ mother would not join in the festivity, as it was now a day of tragedy. However, she was persuaded to have a simple observance at home—with quiet prayers for Basilios’ safekeeping. Meanwhile, as Basilios was fulfilling his tasks serving the emir, he was suddenly whisked up and away. St. Nicholas appeared to the terrified boy, blessed him, and set him down at his home back in Myra. Imagine the joy and wonderment when Basilios amazingly appeared before his parents, still holding the king’s golden cup.
When he was young, Nicholas made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There as he walked where Jesus walked, he sought to more deeply experience Jesus’ life, passion, and resurrection. Returning by sea, a mighty storm threatened to wreck the ship. Nicholas calmly prayed. The terrified sailors were amazed when the wind and waves suddenly calmed.
Other stories tell of Nicholas saving his people from famine, sparing the lives of those innocently accused, and many more kind and generous deeds, he did in secret, expecting nothing in return. Within a century of his death he was celebrated as a saint.
Today he is venerated in the East as wonder, or miracle worker and in the West as patron of a great variety of persons-children, mariners, bankers, pawn-brokers, scholars, orphans, laborers, travelers, merchants, judges, paupers, marriageable maidens, students, children, sailors, victims of judicial mistakes, captives, perfumers, even thieves and murderers! He is known as the friend and protector of all in trouble or need.
Following his baptism, Grand Prince Vladimir I brought St. Nicholas’ stories and devotion to St. Nicholas to his homeland where Nicholas became the most beloved saint. Nicholas was so widely revered that thousands of churches were named for him, including three hundred in Belgium, thirty-four in Rome, twenty-three in the Netherlands and more than four hundred in England.
|Rare icon of St. Nicholas at the Council of Nicaea |
and the scene of the slap in the face of Arius
St Nicholas, an all-praised and all-honoured wonder worker, Saint of Christ, man of God, man of love, faithful servant, pillar of the Church, star that illumines and enlightens the whole world. You were a righteous man that flourished and from whom ever-flowed the grace of God.
St Nicholas, we glorify and magnify you as the hope of all Christians, speedy helper, fervent intercessor, good shepherd, a fountain of miracles, a defender of the faithful, a most wise teacher, a feeder of the hungry, provider of the naked, healer of the sick, liberator of prisoners, gentle tutor of children, support of the aged, abundant riches of the poor and needy.
St Nicholas, hearken unto us who pray to you and seek your protection. Mediate on our behalf with the Most High, and obtain all that we need for the salvation of our souls.
(Share your request…) but, may the will of our Almighty Father be done.
Keep us, we humbly ask, from all oppression through your mediation with the All-Merciful God and your fervent intercession and protection.
St Nicholas, as a watchful and good shepherd, protect us from enemies and pestilence, earthquakes and famine, flood and fire, the sword and invasions, and, in all our misfortunes and afflictions, give us a helping hand to open the doors of God’s compassion; for we are unworthy to look upon the height of Heaven because of the multitude of our sins.
St Nicholas, we bend the knees of our broken and humble heart to our Maker, and ask your fatherly intercession lest we perish with our sins. Deliver us from all evil. Direct our minds and strengthen our hearts. Graciously help us to live a peaceful life and see the good things in the land of the living, glorifying the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.