Saint Brigid Religious Education
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St. Nicholas of Myra
Feast day: December 6
Saint Nicholas, the patron Saint of Russia, has won the warmest of
praises from other Saints such as Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Peter
Damian, who called him the glory of young men, the honor of the elderly,
the splendor of priests and the light of Pontiffs. All the world was
filled with his praises, Saint Peter added. The universal Church, in the
Collect of his office, claims that God made known his nobility by an
infinite number of miracles.
He was born during the third century, nephew of the Archbishop of Myra.
He had lost his parents while still very young, and he desired not to
conserve his rich heritage. Gradually he gave away everything of which
he could dispose, establishing dowries for poor maidens and seeking out
the needy wherever they could be found. The Archbishop, his uncle,
already aware of his vocation to sanctity, ordained Saint Nicholas
priest and appointed him Abbot of the monastery of Holy Sion near Myra.
He undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, resurrecting a sailor who
fell from a mast during the voyage, he prayed for the frightened
passengers in a near-fatal tempest and calmed it. He visited Saint
Anthony of the Desert and healed many sick persons in Alexandria during
a stopover in Egypt.
On the death of the Archbishop of Myra, Nicholas was elected to the vacant
see. Immediately after the pontifical Mass, he resurrected an infant who
had fallen into a fire.
A persecution broke out under the emperor Licinius
and Saint Nicholas was
banished and kept in chains. He suffered from severe mistreatment but
returned to his church when Constantine the Great defeated Licinius, and
in 313 then put a definitive end to the persecutions.
labored in his domains to stop the worship of false gods, still
practiced there as elsewhere. With his own hands he cut down a huge
tree, site of a sacrilegious cult of the goddess Diana. During a famine
his prayers multiplied the provisions of wheat which he had ordered for
the port of Myra, to such an extent that what would have sufficed for
his people for only a few days, was found to be sufficient for more than
two years. He rescued from death, just before they were hanged, three
innocents condemned by a judge who had been corrupted by money,
reprehended the latter for his crime and sent these liberated ones home,
Throughout his life he retained the bright and simple manners of his
early years. No one could converse with him without finding himself
spiritually renewed. Saint Nicholas was the special protector of the
innocent and the wronged. He is usually represented at the side of a
container in which a cruel butcher had concealed the bodies of three
young persons, whom he had killed and was intending to use in his
commerce, but who were restored to life by the Saint. This miracle was
reported by Saint Bonaventure in a sermon.
Saint Nicholas rejoiced when God made known to him that the end of his
pilgrimage was near. He retired to his Monastery of Holy Sion, and after
a short but intense episode of fever, died in the year 342. He is the
patron of schoolchildren, sailors, travelers and pilgrims, prisoners and
many others. His relics were translated in 1087 to Bari, Italy, where a
church was built in his honor. And there, after fifteen centuries, the
manna of Saint Nicholas still flows from his bones and heals all kinds