Saint Stories: Saint Nicholas

The story of Santa Claus is well known. He spends the year in the North Pole with his elves in preparation to bring gifts to good boys and girls. The story behind St. Nicholas is even more endearing. Nicholas was born in the third century to a wealthy Greek family in the village of Patara, located on the southern coast of modern Turkey. While still a young boy, his devout Christian parents died during an epidemic, after which Nicholas became even more devout. He took the words of Jesus, "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," to a very strict interpretation, and used his inheritance to help the needy, the sick and the suffering.

Nicholas' good work helped him rise to become the Bishop of Myra at an early age for such titles. He continued to be generous to those in need, and shared care and concern for children, sailors and ships.

Christians were persecuted under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, and Bishop Nicholas was exiled and imprisoned. Through his imprisonment and release, Nicholas' faith never faltered. He died on December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in the cathedral church where he served in his years as a Bishop. In his grave a liquid substance believed to be a relic called manna formed, and this substance is said to have healing powers, and promoted devotion to Nicholas. Despite the fact he died in the 3rd century, his spirit of giving lives on today.

Quick Facts about Saint Nicholas

Feast day: December 6 (December 19 on the Julian Calendar)

Patronage: Children, coopers, sailors, fishermen, merchants, the falsely accused, repentant thieves, brewers

Venerated in: Anglicanism, Baptism, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Methodism, Presbyterianism