Posted by: Fr Chris | December 6, 2019

Saint Nicholas Day 2019

Ten Miracle-Working Icons of Saint Nicholas | A Reader's ...


While Nicholas is enormously popular in both the Latin Church and the Christian East, he is especially important for us. For at least seven centuries, the head of the Byzantine Catholic Church in Subcarpathian Rus’ lived in the Saint Nicholas monastery. As a result, he has been invoked as the special protector of our Church.

Saint Nicholas Monastery (Mukachevo) - Wikipedia

St Nicholas Monastery, Mukachevo: Since 1949 this has been occupied by the Russian Orthodox Church, which has built the Russian-style church in the background. 

Born into a Christian family, his parents left him a large wealthy estate. Both as a layman and priest and later bishop, he used his wealth for others. As a Spiritual Shepherd, St. Nicholas distinguished himself for his pastoral zeal and uncommon goodness of heart. He also worked miracles which made people consider him a Saint even before his death. He had been imprisoned during the last national persecution of Christians and so was also revered as a Confessor of the faith. He strongly defended the Faith at the Nicaean Council (325) and protected his flock from paganism and the Arian heresy. He assisted the poor, saved the innocent from injustice, and comforted the suffering and the sick. Several times during his episcopacy St. Nicholas saved his people from imminent starvation with miraculous multiplication of grain. He died on December 6,  and is commemorated in the liturgical calendar on the anniversary of his holy death.

The Miracles of Saint Nicholas | ferrebeekeeper

St Nicholas intercedes for sailors at risk 

The public veneration of St. Nicholas started very early after his death. Fifth century records indicate that his grave was the site of constant pilgrimages. People came from to venerate his relics and to implore his intercession, and many miracles were recorded at the site of his tomb. In particular his body gave off a special crystalline liquid that is still used to anoint the sick. Thus St. Nicholas, after the Blessed Mother and St. John the Baptist, became the most venerated Saint in the Churches of the Byzantine tradition.

The solemn celebration of the feast of St. Nicholas was introduced in Constantinople within 150 years of his death, which testifies to his popularity and the authenticity of his miracles.

There are many miracles ascribed to St. Nicholas. The principal miracles ascribed to St. Nicholas by constant tradition are these:

1) St. Nicholas, by his prayer during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, calmed a violent storm on the open sea, and prevented certain shipwreck; from this he became the patron saint of sailors.

2) St. Nicholas, either in a dream to Emperor Constantine, or by his own personal intervention, saved three innocent officers from execution; he thus became patron of those unjustly accused.

Nikolai Mirlikiiskii saves Three Innocent, 1888 in 2019 | faith | Peinture russe, Timée, Russie

3) St. Nicholas, blessed with the charism of healing, restored health to innumerable people suffering from incurable diseases; he is a patron of the sick.

4) St. Nicholas, warned by God, secretly provided a dowry to three poor girls, destined by their own father to be sold into prostitution to provide him with a steady income. Not to expose the father’s sinful design, the Saint secretly, during the night, left a bag of gold pieces for each girl as a dowry for them and to enable each of them to lead an honest life. This money was put into stockings that had been put up to dry by the fireplace. Thus that particular practice of hanging stockings for Santa Claus to fill comes directly from that event.

Gentile da Fabriano, Stories of St Nicholas of Bari

From this rescue of the three girls, Nicholas became the patron saint of children and the practice arose of Nicholas as the gift-bringer. In many countries, December 6 was the day for presents, not Christmas Day. In Holland and Germany children put out their shoes on the night of December 5, and would awaken to find special treats in them.

5) Nicholas revives three students who had been murdered and restores them to their family.

St Nicholas Posters | Zazzle

The Protestant Dutch had to keep him due to his popularity with their children even though they had become Calvinists in the reformation. Their celebration in old New York City of Sankt Nicklaus became corrupted into Santa Claus, the bestower of gifts at Christmas time, and Santa in turn has lost all religious significance.

In icons of St. Nicholas, Christ is usually depicted on one side with a Gospel in His hands, and Our Lady is depicted on the other side with an episcopal omophorion in her hands. This has a twofold historical significance: first, it signifies the calling of Nicholas as a bishop – he was appointed bishop because Nicholas had a vision of both Jesus and Mary showing him those two symbols.

Second, according to an old tradition, at the council of Nicaea in 325 Nicholas was so outraged by the false teaching of Arius the heretic that he got up and punched him in the face. The other bishops were of course appalled at that, and denounced Nicholas, saying he should not be a bishop. But that very night they all had the same dream in which Jesus and Mary appeared with the Gospel book and the bishop’s omophorion, and they returned those symbols back to Nicholas. In the morning they apologized to him and restored him to his office, and recognized his zeal for the truth as the reason for his outburst.

A Reader's Guide to Orthodox Icons | Feeble words about powerful images | Page 10

Nicholas’ icon is always at the north end of the icon screen. His intercession for people covers a broad range, from coal miners in America saved from disaster to sailors in the navy to the miraculous rescue of children.

Feast of Saint Nicholas | Father Christopher Zugger

But he is also meant to be the model for bishops, and really for all of us. As a model bishop, he was orthodox in faith, committed to justice and charity, and above all he was a man of prayer. If we ourselves are all solidly orthodox in our Catholic faith, committed to righting injustices, willing to help the poor either personally or by donating to special causes, and are above all else people rooted in prayer and worship, then we will be faithful to Nicholas’ memory and witness. He has been venerated as an intercessor for our Church ever since the foundation of that first monastery so long ago. Let us turn to him not only today, but every day, and implore his intercession at the throne of God for holiness for our bishops; an increase in vocations to priesthood, diaconate, and  consecrated life in our Church; for the protection of children both unborn and born; and that we would all serve Christ as faithfully as he did.

A Prayer For Children Holy Card

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