Friday, December 27, 2013

The Historical Saint Nicholas of Bari

There are many traditions to share with one another at this season, some old, some new enough to be rediscovered! Recollecting the date, December 6th is the feast of Saint Nicholas of Bari, the Simple Mind writes a bit about this personage. More often called Saint Nicholas of Myra or more often, Santa Claus was indeed a real person. As a saint of the Church and a most highly favored saint of Greek Orthodoxy, he is also revered in Russia, to mention a few places. Little is known of his earliest years, but he was said to have been born about 460 or 480 AD in Patara. He was highly influenced by the teachings of another saint, Saint Augustine of Hippo; he was so moved that he became one of their community. Later he was made bishop of the ancient diocese of Myra, Asia Minor, today part of Turkey. Tracing the life of this saint proves to be an interesting travel itinerary.

He is attributed with several characteristics: he taught the Christian gospel vigorously, like the good shepherd and was imprisoned during  persecutions of Diocletian. Specifically, Roman Emperor Diocletian rescinded the legal rights of Christians and demanded that they observe traditional Roman religious practice. Freed from prison by Emperor Constantine, Nicholas was said to have been present at the Council of Nicaea held in 325 AD in Alexandria, Egypt. Later as Bishop, he worked to save the lives of three men, is said to be the saint of children, sailors, to have encouraged the active practice of Charity as taught by the Christ, to love one another. This was remarkable in his world where an eye for an eye reigned supreme. He died at Myra and was buried within his Cathedral.

In December, learn about the Saint, share in his practice and make the holiday bright. Today we offer treats and chocolates to one another and observe many other customs inspired by Saint Nicholas. Exchanging gifts is one practice recalling the birth of the Christ child that is also attributed to Saint Nicholas.

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