Skip to comments.Church celebrates feast of St. Nicholas, the 'original' Santa Claus
Posted on 12/06/2009 5:48:31 AM PST by NYer
.- Today, December 6, the faithful commemorate a Turkish bishop in the early church who was known for generosity and love of children. Born in Lycia in Asia Minor around the late third or fourth century, St. Nicholas of Myra is more than just the inspiration for the modern day Santa.
As a young man he is said to have made a pilgrimage to Palestine and Egypt in order to study in the school of the Desert Fathers. On returning some years later he was almost immediately ordained Bishop of Myra, which is now Demre, on the coast of modern day turkey.
The bishop was imprisoned during the Diocletian persecution and only released when Constantine the Great came to power and made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.
One of the most famous stories of the generosity of St. Nicholas says that he threw bags of gold through an open window in the house of a poor man to serve as dowry for the mans daughters, who otherwise would have been sold into slavery.
The gold is said to have landed in the familys shoes, which were drying near the fire. This is why children leave their shoes out by the door, or hang their stockings by the fireplace in the hopes of receiving a gift on the eve of his feast.
St. Nicholas is associated with Christmas because of the tradition that he had the custom of giving secret gifts to children. It is also conjectured that the saint, who was known to wear red robes and have a long white beard, was culturally converted into the large man with a reindeer-drawn sled full of toys because in German, his name is San Nikolaus which almost sounds like Santa Claus.
In the East, he is known as St. Nicholas of Myra for the town in which he was bishop. But in the West he is called St. Nicholas of Bari because, during the Muslim conquest of Turkey in 1087, his relics were taken to Bari by the Italians.
St Nicholas is the patron of children and of sailors. His intercession is sought by the shipwrecked, by those in difficult economic circumstances, and for those affected by fires. He died on December 6, 346.
Catholic and Orthodox ping!
All these years, I had no idea that my kids (and my wife) were hoping for an unscheduled visit from St. Nick. I thought they just were too lazy to put their shoes where they belonged....
He is also famous for reportedly (in some accounts) slapping Arius at the Council of Nicaea. St. Nicholas was then ejected from the council but was allowed back the next day after the Virgin appeared to the Church Fathers and told them that St. Nicholas acted out of love for the Son.
Interesting story .. thanks for the post and ping.
It was really quite objective, explaining how he got his start and how his story grew into what it is today.
I might run out and get the Bennett book "The real St. Nicholas" as a gift for a young adult in my family, even thought I'm not especially a fan of Bennett...
>> He is also famous for reportedly (in some accounts) slapping Arius at the Council of Nicaea.
To be bitch slapped by Santa - now that’s some serious stuff. He shoulda kept his silly consubstantialist opinions to himself.
This Saint lived during the reign of Saint Constantine the Great, and reposed in 330, As a young man, he desired to espouse the solitary life. He made a pilgrimage to the holy city Jerusalem, where he found a place to withdraw to devote himself to prayer. It was made known to him, however, that this was not the will of God for him, but that he should return to his homeland to be a cause of salvation for many. He returned to Myra, and was ordained bishop. He became known for his abundant mercy, providing for the poor and needy, and delivering those who had been unjustly accused. No less was he known for his zeal for the truth. He was present at the First Ecumenical Council of the 318 Fathers at Nicaea in 325; upon hearing the blasphemies that Arius brazenly uttered against the Son of God, Saint Nicholas struck him on the face. Since the canons of the Church forbid the clergy to strike any man at all, his fellow bishops were in perplexity what disciplinary action was to be taken against this hierarch whom all revered. In the night our Lord Jesus Christ and our Lady Theotokos appeared to certain of the bishops, informing them that no action was to be taken against him, since he had acted not out of passion, but extreme love and piety. The Dismissal Hymn for holy hierarchs, The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock ... was written originally for Saint Nicholas. He is the patron of all travellers, and of sea-farers in particular; he is one of the best known and best loved Saints of all time.
Interestingly, today we chant Resurrectional AND Seasonal Kontakia and Apolytikia.
Resurrectional Apolytikion in the First Tone
The stone had been secured with a seal by the Judeans, * and a guard of soldiers was watching Your immaculate body. * You rose on the third day, O Lord * and Savior, granting life unto the world. * For this reason were the powers of heaven crying out to You, O Life-giver: * Glory to Your resurrection, O Christ; * glory to Your eternal rule; * glory to Your dispensation, only One who loves mankind.
Resurrectional Kontakion in the First Tone
You arose from the sepulcher in glory as God, and with yourself resurrected the world. And mortal nature extolled You as God, and death was obliterated, and Adam is dancing, O Master; and Eve, now redeemed from the bonds, rejoices crying out: O Christ, You are He who grants resurrection to all.
Seasonal Kontakion in the Third Tone
On this day the Virgin cometh to the cave to give birth to * God the Word ineffably, * Who was before all the ages. * Dance for joy, O earth, on hearing * the gladsome tidings; * with the Angels and the shepherds now glorify Him * Who is willing to be gazed on * as a young Child Who * before the ages is God.
Orthodox ping. A blessed Name Day to all the Nicholases, Nikolais, Nicoles and Nicolinas!
Those Greeks sure can put words together.
“Those Greeks sure can put words together.”
Yes, even in English; we’re rather proud of that...! Somehow or other, sports page English just doesn’t cut it for liturgical chants or monastic readings.
I’m sure it’s lovely in Greek. We’ve learned the verb “to raise up” and a pile of definite articles now!
My husband was stationed in Turkey in the Air Force. We were visiting a museum and they had this bone of Saint Nick in the musueum! I was trying to push my kids through so they didn’t see it! I recall it was in a red velvet lined box.
the faithful commemorate a Turkish bishop in the early church
Saint Nicholas was a fully Hellenic Greek father of the Christian Faith.
Nothing Turkish about him except that Muslim Turks destroyed what Christians created throughout Asia Minor.
“during the Muslim conquest of Turkey in 1087”
Here is another miserable mistake. The CNS writers must be in a permanent hangover mode or have given up on fact checking.
Turkey was not conquered-—that hopeful event still remains to happen.
Byzantium was continually under attack by arab muslims then by Turk Muslims no Turkey existed not until Kemal Mustafa - Hitlers teacher of genocidetook over and finished off the destruction of 4 million Christian in the 20th century.
Here is another especially self serving rewriting of history too on the part of the CNS writers:
during the Muslim conquest of Turkey in 1087, his relics were taken to Bari by the Italians.
In 1087 Italian merchants STOLE his body at Myra, bringing it to Bari in Italy.
I printed the article so I can talk about St. Nicholas in Confirmation Class today!
Had the Italian merchants not taken his bones to Italy, what do you suppose the Muslims would have done with them?
Had the Italian merchants not taken his bones to Italy, what do you suppose the Muslims would have done with them?
The fact remains that they were stolen over the objection of Christian Orthodox Monks.
I found a text of the Akathist in Spanish, while I was looking for Mariachi pieces for Our Lady of Guadalupe. If the Spanish text fits a 4/4 meter, we could ...
You were there? There are many stories about these bones but, ultimately, the good news is that for both Orthodox and Catholics, they have been preserved and were not destroyed when Myra was overtaken by Muslim invaders. For this, we should both be grateful.
“Had the Italian merchants not taken his bones to Italy, what do you suppose the Muslims would have done with them?”
The Mohammedans wouldn’t have gotten them. Likely they’d have stayed in Constantinople with Orthodox monks for near the next 400 years and then have been taken off to Russia by the same Orthodox monks who had cherished them for 1000 years, unless the Roman Catholics stole them during the sack of Constantinople in 1204 when they stole most everything else cherished and revered by the Orthodox Christians.
All of this happened a very long time ago and some progress has been made by the Vatican in cleaning up what its partisan thieves did in the East, but it is apparent from idiotic comments like those made by the “Catholic News Agency” that the organized Catholic media is still living in the Latin LALA land of yesteryear where the Crusaders saved the East’s relics from profanation at the hands of the Mohammedans. That’s a shame. The arrogant stupidity of the CNAs of this world push the day of reunion off even further.
Catholic News Service can’t even give credit to the saint’s heritage and ethnicity!
Saint Nicholas of Myra -— A Turk indeed! Really shameful and despicable behavior on the part of CNS.
Sometimes it is better for our own peace of mind to relinquish the past and move into the present. Does it really matter where the bones of St. Nicholas are kept? Does it matter where pieces of the true cross have been distributed? What does matter is that proper reverence and due respect are given to these objects. Italy is not that far from Greece or Turkey. In an age of high speed rail and aviation, a truly devoted individual could certainly make a pilgrimage to visit these relics. Perhaps it was the will of the saint that his name be elevated in the west where he could bring more souls to our Lord. Who are we to bicker over saintly remains.
I am reminded of the skull of St. Maron. There is no saint more precious to the Maronites than him for their church bears his name.
St. Maroun died around 410 A.D. and willed to be buried in St. Zabinas tomb in Kita in the region of Cyrrhus. However, his will was not executed because people from different villages wanted to have him buried in their towns. Theodorets description of St. Marouns burial place<.4) points to the populous town of Barad in the proximity of Kfarnabo. A huge church was built in that town around the beginning of the fifth century A.D. (25).
Inside this church there was a sarcophagus, which possibly contained St. Marouns body. According to a Maronite tradition, the followers of St. Maroun carried the relics of the Saint, especially the skull, to St. Marouns Monastery or "Beit Maroun" built in 452 A.D. between Hama and Aleppo in Syria.
Relic of Saint
The skull was carried to St. Marouns Monastery in Kfarhai, Batroun - Lebanon around the turn of the eighth century. Patriarch Douaihy mentions: "When Youhanna (John) Maroun settled in Kfarhai, he built an altar and a monastery after St. Marouns name and put St. Marouns skull inside the altar to heal the faithful. Thats why the monastery is called "Rish Mro" (Syriac) meaning "Marouns head"(26) .
Later, St. Marouns skull was taken to Italy. In 1130 A.D. one of the Benedictine monks came tc the region. This monk was the rector of the Cross Afonastery near Foligno-Italy. During his visit he heard about St. Marouns skull, and upon retuming home he publicized St. Marouns virtues. As a matter of fact, a church was built after St. Marouns name in Foligno. The Bishop of Foligno carried the skull to the city in 1194 A.D. and put it in the church of the diocese. The faithful in the city made a statue of silver for St. Maroun and put the skull in it. During his stay in Italy in 1887, Bishop Youssef el-Debs was given some relics of St. Marouns skull by the Bishop of Foligno(27).
I have never heard anyone complain about this transferral of their beloved saint's skull to Italy. If anything, they are grateful that his name has become known in the West.
You are aware I am sure that the parastate of Turkey is demanding the relics back...and since St. Nicholas is a “Turkish” saint according to some bozo writer at CNS — I somehow expect this to happen.
Another important point they are incapable of understanding is that the Muslims never, never "conquered Turkey". What happened is the the Muslim Turks conquered Asia Minor.
Also, if not for the stupid British Empire helping the Muslims every chance they could get for centuries, the Christians would have been free of Islamic tyranny many years earlier, with an immense savings of millions of lives. The way things are looking,m England is being Islamicized by their immigrants, and sad to say they brought it on themselves.
Ach! Should have sung the great "Queen of Chorales" by Philip Nicolai (1556-1609) today:
1. O Morning Star, how fair and bright
thou beamest forth in truth and light,
O Sovereign meek and lowly!
Thou Root of Jesse, David's Son,
my Lord and Master, thou has won
my heart to serve thee solely!
Thou art holy,
fair and glorious, all-victorious,
rich in blessing,
rule and might o'er all possessing.
2. Thou heavenly Brightness! Light divine!
O deep within my heart now shine,
and make thee there an altar!
fill me with joy and strength to be
thy member, ever joined to thee in love that cannot falter;
toward thee longing
doth possess me; turn and bless me;
here in sadness
eye and heart long for thy gladness.
NYer, its got to do with honesty and respect, not distance from Greece or Myra.
“You are aware I am sure that the parastate of Turkey is demanding the relics back...and since St. Nicholas is a Turkish saint according to some bozo writer at CNS I somehow expect this to happen.”
Wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Likely the Turkish dogs would put them on display in that big museum they have in the Polis. Now what was its name...?
There are only two proper possible places for those relics; the Phanar or Moscow.
The West is doomed not for electing scum like Obama but for not recognizing or even better having any understanding of the unimaginably heroic efforts into defeating hordes of Muslims by Orthodox civilizations...Russia at the top of the list after the Fall of Byzantium.
Don't talk to me about the Brits-— commonly called the “Old Whore” among my friends from the Balkans and me too. Brits have repeatedly back stabbed Christian slaves barely surviving under the moham’dan yoke for centuries.
What really galls me is the CNS — and their sheer ignorance and gall in calling Saint Nicholas a Turkish saint. And then having our own Rooney here on this thread come up with lame arguments for pillaging his relics by robbers and thieves.
the Phanar or Moscow.
What about Mount Athos?
“What about Mount Athos?”
Eleni mou, I want you to be able to venerate those relics.
As I pointed out in my post to elenil, there are many stories and legends surrounding these bones. We were not there. We do not know the facts; there is no documentation. We only know what we have been told. And that, dear friend, is the honest truth. As for respect, we know for a fact that these bones of St. Nicholas have been treated with great respect by the residents of Bari and shown utter reverence over all these years. Do you know otherwise?
LOL. Good one.
OK I vote for Moscow or St. Pete’s then.
I can say this though. NO Christian who wishes to see the Saint’s birthplace should step foot in Demre or any other bloody Turk place. The priests who are celebrating today in Noel Baba Müzesi have much more tolerance for these scum than I do.
You need to focus.
The Article is full of factual errors. Whether deliberate or not only their conscience will decide that.
Second, any relics of Saint Nicholas whether in Bari or in the fake museum in Demre must be returned to the beloved care of the Orthodox faithful since they were stolen from their place of origin and that place of origin AT PRESENT no longer exists.
It is time to do the right thing.
“As for respect, we know for a fact that these bones of St. Nicholas have been treated with great respect by the residents of Bari and shown utter reverence over all these years. Do you know otherwise? “
They were stolen by thieves and turned over to the Roman Church. The Roman Catholic thieves showed no respect for The Faith, the evil mitred thieves they turned the relics over to showed no respect and continue to show no respect by retaining the stolen relics. Whatever reverence the co-religionists of the thieves have shown is neither here nor there. Thieves and their supporters often show reverence for their ill gotten booty. Look at the British! In the present case, the Pope himself, since he could order the return of these Orthodox relics and the hundreds of others held in Roman Catholic churches and monasteries tomorrow if he wanted to, must be considered as guilty as the ravening wolves from the West who originally stole them.
An "Anglican World" Christmas Special: St. Nicholas, a Saint For Today
Saint Nicholas of Myra, By Ilya Repin
How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus: One Theory
An Orthodox priest at Bari; the story of St. Nicholas' bones
Turkish Town Exchanges St. Nick for Santa (Former Myra, hometown of St. Nicholas)
The Real St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas belongs in any reclamation of Christmas
Don't forget: St. Nicholas' Day is tomorrow [today] (get your shoes out!)
Life of Saint Nicholas the Bishop, from The Golden Legend compiled by Jacobus de Voragine
Yes, There Really is a St. Nicholas !
the Italian peninsula being Byzantine Greek...ho hum....that fact does not give the Roman Bishop the right to keep the relics that were stolen over the objections of the holy men who cared for them at the time and have been kept for so many years in Bari.
The saint lived and died in the land that is now part of the country of Turkey. In that sense, the Turks claim him as their own — he was not a Turk ethnically, that’s certain, but he was also most likely not a Greek ethnically, maybe with some Greek blood, but not A Greek. He would have considered himself Roman. Ethnically he may have been any one of, or a mixture of Ionian Greek, Lydian, Armenian, Syrian, Roman, Galatian, Persian etc. etc. Linguistically, he was pretty definitely Latin, with a knowledge of Greek. Religion-wise he was Christian of the orthodox (with a small ‘o’) faith.
Hint: Repetition of lies can never make them true.
Your comments provoke sadness....
And your comments are really sad. at no point did I say he was Turkish. READ it.
Hey — How about you go your way into la la land and leave me in peace.
There are other collegial ways to deal with this if only the Bishop in Rome would acknowledge the thievery and humbly discuss the outrages.
You know, some of the responses from the Orthodox on here are a manifestation of how some (too many in, my opinion), are needlessly holding on to centuries-old grudges (oh, you Latins did this in this year, you Latin did that). Sorry to be blunt, but that’s how it appears to me.