Advent Challenge – Day 5 – St. Nicholas
Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!
Most of us know that who we currently know as Santa Claus is actually the Coca-Cola-fied version of St. Nicholas. But not everybody knows exactly how it all originated.
So here’s a quick breakdown for you.
Nicholas was the bishop of Myra in the 3rd century. He was well known for his generosity, and the most common story told about him was that there was a poor man who had three daughters. At the time, a dowry was necessary in order for a father to attract a good husband for his daughter. Since he was poor, the likelihood of his daughters getting married was not very good, and would leave them destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, three bags of gold appeared in the poor man’s house one night, having been thrown through a window (or a chimney) by St. Nicholas as he passed by the house. Some of the coins landed in the girls shoes and stockings that had been placed by the door or the fireplace. This lead to the current tradition of children leaving their shoes by the door for St. Nicholas to fill with gold chocolate coins, oranges and other treats. Some people give gifts on this day as well, but that’s not how my family rolls.
A lesser known fact about St. Nicholas was that he was also present at the Council of Nicea! This Council came together to fight the heresy of Arianism purported by Arius, who denied the divinity of Christ.
At the Council, Arius was asked to defend his position, and St. Nicholas, unable to sit through that nonsense, got up and told him a thing or two….with his fists!
Emperor Constantine and the other Bishops were alarmed by the outburst and stripped him of his office of bishop, by removing his copy of the Gospels and the pallium. He was also placed in a prison cell, and while there, Jesus and the Blessed Virgin appeared to him. Our Lord asked Nicholas “Why are you here?”, to which Nicholas responded “Because I love you, my Lord and my God.”
Jesus returned Nicholas’ copy of the Gospels, and Our Lady vested him with his pallium, symbolically restoring him to his rank of bishop. When Constantine got wind of this he ordered that Nicholas be restored to his position of bishop in good standing with the council.
So next time you recite the Nicene Creed, remember, you have St. Nicholas’ fists to thank for that!
What else we did for Advent today:
Resources: canterbury tales