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The life of sAINT NICHOlAs
In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence; your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you. Hierarch Father Nicholas, entreat Christ our God that our souls may be saved.
You revealed yourself, O saint, in Myra as a priest, for you fulfilled the Gospel of Christ by giving up your soul for your people, and saving the innocent from death. Therefore you are blessed as one become wise in the grace of God.
The early years
Nicholas was born in the city of Patara in the region of Lycia (on the south coast of the Asia Minor peninsula) around the end of the third century. The newborn infant, while still in the baptismal font, stood on his feet three hours, without support from anyone, thereby honoring the Most Holy Trinity. St Nicholas from his infancy began a life of fasting, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he would not drink milk from his mother until after his parents had finished their evening prayers.
A Holy life
From his childhood Nicholas thrived on the study of Divine Scripture; by day he would not leave church, and by night he prayed and read books, making himself a worthy dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. From early youth he was inclined to solitude and silence; in fact, not a single written or spoken word of the Saint has come down to us.
Committed to god
Nicholas was the only son of pious parents Theophanes and Nonna, who had vowed to dedicate him to God. As the fruit of the prayer of his childless parents, the infant Nicholas from the very day of his birth revealed to people the light of his future glory as a wonderworker. His mother, Nonna, after giving birth was immediately healed from illness.
Serving the church
His uncle, Bishop Nicholas of Patara, rejoiced in the spiritual accomplishments of little Nicholas. He first tonsured Nicholas as a reader, then elevated him to the priesthood, and made him his assistant, assigning him to educate the flock. In serving the Lord, Nicholas was on fire with the Holy Spirit. He responded to questions of faith, like an elder which led the believers to respect him greatly. He worked every minute and remained focused, praying without stopping. As a priest Nicholas showed great charity toward his flock, coming to the aid of the suffering, and giving all he had to the poor.
bishop of myra
When Archbishop John reposed in the Lord, Nicholas was chosen though a very special revelation to become the next Bishop of Myra. One of the elder bishops had a vision of a radiant Man, Who told him that the one who came to the church that night and was first to enter should be made archbishop. He would be named Nicholas. The bishop went to the church at night to wait for Nicholas. The saint, always the first to arrive at church, was stopped by the bishop. "What is your name, child?" he asked. God's chosen one replied, "My name is Nicholas, Master, and I am your servant." The bishop took St Nicholas immediately to the other bishops and exclaimed, “Brethren, receive your shepherd whom the Holy Spirit himself anointed and to whom he entrusted the care of your souls. He was not appointed by an assembly of men but by God himself.”
Miracles at sea
Once on a journey to the Holy Land, Saint Nicholas predicted a storm would arise and threaten the ship. He saw the devil get on the ship, intending to sink it and kill all the passengers. At the plea of the worried pilgrims, Saint Nicholas calmed the waves of the sea by his prayers. Even a certain sailor of the ship, who had fallen from the mast and was injured badly, was completely restored to health.
God honored the faithfulness of Saint Nicholas by granting him unparalleled gifts of healing and wonderworking. Several times he calmed storms at sea by his prayers and saved the ship that he was sailing in. Through the centuries he has often done the same for sailors who call out to him, and is considered the patron Saint of sailors and all who go to sea.
Emperor Constantine received a visit from Saint Nicholas one night after three innocent soldiers had wrongly been accused by Eulalius. The saint commanded: "Constantine, emperor, rise and free those three men whom you have locked in prison, Nepotianus and Ursus and Eupoleonis, officers of the army, who have been arrested by hearsay. If you do not obey me, I will stir up an uncontrollable revolt against you, and hand over your body to the wild beasts for food, bearing witness against you before the celestial King Christ." Then said the emperor, "Who are you, and how did you get into my palace?" Said the holy man, "I am Bishop Nicholas, a sinner, who lives in the metropolis of Lycia." The Emperor Constantine obeyed the request of Saint Nicholas immediately when he awoke.
A man named Eulalius, the city ruler of Byzantium, also received a powerful visit from Saint Nicholas in the middle of the night. Eulalius had sinned greatly by accepting a bribe to report a false accusation to Emperor Constantine about three innocent soldiers named Nepotianus and Ursus and Eupoleonis. Afraid that his deception would later come to light, Eulalius urged Constantine to condemn the three men, insisting that even in prison they continued to plot against his life. The alarmed emperor sentenced them to death. However, the good Saint corrected the injustice.
HOPE IN PRISON
Emperor Constantine called the three soldiers Nepotianus, Ursus and Eupoleonis to him the next day. Questioning them closely he understood their innocence and repented of his rash judgment. As he spoke to them compassionately and with regret, the soldiers suddenly saw Archbishop Nicholas sitting beside the emperor, promising him God’s forgiveness. They told the emperor what they saw and he replied, “It is not I who grant you life, but the great servant of the Lord, Nicholas, whom you called upon for help. Go to thank him, and tell him also from me, ‘I fulfilled your command, servant of Christ. Be not angry with me.’”
Even during his life Saint Nicholas worked many miracles. One of the greatest was the deliverance from death of three men unjustly condemned by the Governor, who had been bribed. The saint boldly went up to the executioner and took his sword, already suspended over the heads of the condemned. The Governor, corrected by Saint Nicholas for his wrong doing, repented and begged for forgiveness.
Father Nicholas had great compassion on a wealthy businessman of Patara who had fallen on hard times and lost his fortune. Desperate, the man had determined to sell the bodies of his three daughters in order to raise funds for the family. Hearing of the plan (in some accounts, through a divine revelation), Saint Nicholas passed by his home in secret during the night and threw three hundred gold coins wrapped in a handkerchief through the man's window. This occurred three times, in secret, to conceal the act of charity. The man full of gratitude for the kindness was able to arrange for his daughters to be married.
Illumined by christ
Despite his great gentleness of spirit and purity of heart, Saint Nicholas was a zealous and ardent warrior of the Church of Christ. Fighting evil spirits, the saint made the rounds of the pagan temples and shrines in the city of Myra and its surroundings, shattering the idols and turning the temples to dust.
Love of people
Saint Nicholas worked many other miracles, and struggled many long years at his labor. Through the prayers of the saint, the city of Myra was rescued from a terrible famine. He appeared to a certain Italian merchant and left him three gold pieces as a pledge of payment. He requested him to sail to Myra and deliver grain as food for the hungry there.
Serving the Lord
He was noted in particular for the fervency of his prayer and kind-hearted nature, and the attention to charitable work that characterized his priestly ministry. Following the example of Christ, Father Nicholas sold his possessions when his parents reposed and a few years after his ordination, distributed his inheritance to the poor and wounded, who would often seek him out for assistance.
Having reached old age, Saint Nicholas peacefully fell asleep in the Lord around 345. His holy incorrupt relics were placed in a church built in his honor in Myra, where they were venerated by crowds of pilgrims every year. In 1087, after Myra was conquered by the Saracens, the Saint's relics were translated to Bari in southern Italy, where they are venerated today. Every year, quantities of fragrant myrrh are gathered from the casket containing his holy relics. The Feast of Saint Nicholas is December 6th
Defending the faith
In the year 325 Saint Nicholas was a participant in the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea. This Council proclaimed the Nicean Symbol of Faith, and fought against the heretic Arius. Saint Nicholas, inspired with zeal for the Lord, confronted the heretic Arius with his words, and also struck him upon the face. For this reason, he was deprived of the emblems of his rank and placed under guard. But several of the holy Fathers had the same vision, seeing the Lord Himself and the Mother of God returning to him the Gospel and Bishop’s omophorion. The Fathers of the Council agreed that the boldness of the saint was pleasing to God, and restored the saint to the office of bishop. Saint Nicholas is shown here with Christ over his left shoulder holding out a Gospel Book to him and the Theotokos over his right shoulder holding the omophorion. This is to signify the miracle attributed to Saint Nicholas.
Holy Saint Nicholas intercede for us!
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