Saint of the Month: Saint Nicholas of Bari

Saint Nicholas of Bari, also known as Nicholas of Myra or Nicholas the Wonderworker, was born in the year 270, on March 15, in modern day Demre, Turkey, which was the ancient Greek city of Myra in Asia Minor. The history of his life is still somewhat a mystery, due to the accounts of his life being written centuries after his death. The common history says he was born to wealthy Christian parents in Asia Minor.

One of his first and most famous life events is the story of the dowry for three virgins. Nicholas had heard a father of the three girls had become poor and could not afford a proper dowry for them to be married off, which would most likely render the girls to become prostitutes. For three nights, he snuck to their house to deliver a bag of gold for each girl, so they would be able to live a proper life. The father discovered Nicholas on the last night of his generosity and thanked him endlessly for his charity.

Another anecdote of Nicholas is that he visited the Holy Land by ship, when a terrible storm occurred nearly causing complete destruction to the ship. Nicholas performed a miracle to calm the waves and save the ship by stopping the storm. Nicholas returned to Myra where the bishop who succeeded his uncle had recently passed away; and upon entering the church to pray, the priests in the city decided to make him a bishop.

Nicholas may have also attended the Council of Nicaea; however, there is still much debate as to whether this is valid.

Because of Nicholas’s generosity, Christians around the world celebrate his feast day in the form of secret gift-giving by leaving their shoes out for coins. Western Christian countries and Romania celebrate on Dec. 6, the day of his death in 343; The Netherlands celebrate on Dec. 5, and Eastern Christian Countries celebrate Dec. 19.

The relics of Saint Nicholas can be found in Gemile, Turkey; Myra; Bari; and Venice. Saint Nicholas of Bari is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves

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