Sunday, December 26, 2010

Who was St. Nick?

Thought I would share an interesting story about St. Nicholas. One of the interesting things is that the story of St. Nicholas has survived so long. St. Nicholas a 4th century Bishop of Myra.  He was reputed to have worked many miracles and is the patron saint of many different groups. I was simply amazed at the number of works he accomplished in his life, and that he had such an impact on the lives others.
This is a short article about St Nick that I found, but also I provide a link to Wikipedia as it is a very detailed account of his life.

Adapted from an artical by Michael Mink:
Nicholas of Patara didn't like what he heard. A man he knew lost money in a bad business deal. With no money, the man couldn't afford his three daughters' dowries. That meant the girls couldn't marry and would likely end up destitute.
The father reluctantly decided that if he sold one of his daughters as a servant, at least he could help his other daughters.
Born into wealth in what's now Turkey, Nicholas (270-343) didn't know poverty, but he knew sadness; he lost his parents to plague. Raised by an uncle who was a bishop, he had soaked up the message of compassion. So when Nicholas learned of the family's trouble, he acted fast. "All his life Nicholas was known for moving into action when the need was greatest," wrote Joe Wheeler and Jim Rosenthal in "St. Nicholas: A Closer Look at Christmas."
Nicholas went to the man's home at night, climbed on the roof and dropped a bag of gold down the chimney. The money made it possible for the eldest daughter to marry. When it was gone, Nicholas repeated his act of anonymous kindness so the second daughter could marry.
When the money ran out a third time, Nicholas again anonymously made his donation. This time, the bag of gold he tossed through an open window landed in a stocking or on a hook on the fireplace.
The father was awakened by the noise, and he raced out of the house to catch up to his unknown benefactor and thank him. When he did, he dropped to his knees to kiss Nicholas' feet. Nicholas raised the man, told him God was the one who should be thanked and made him promise not to tell what happened as long as he, Nicholas, was alive.
It was one of many selfless actions Nicholas took. Those moves made him one of the most revered philanthropists in history and served as the inspiration for Santa Claus.
Nicholas was the bishop of Myra who tried mightily to live his life by the lessons of Jesus Christ.
Nicholas' Keys
  • A champion and protector of children, the dispossessed, the falsely accused and all those in need.
  • "To the people of his time, if anyone deserved to be called a saint, it was he," wrote Joe Wheeler and Jim Rosenthal.
Nicholas' daily aim was to alleviate suffering. He set an example that many followed. "Nicholas always insisted that no credit or thanks be given to him, but to God only. In this, Nicholas was responding to Christ's repeated injunction that each of us should give in secret," wrote Wheeler and Rosenthal.
"In holiday terms, (he) points to the true essence of Christmas and the child in Bethlehem rather than himself," said Rosenthal.
As a youngster, Nicholas decided to dedicate his life to Christ. To learn as much as he could about Jesus, he went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and walked the same places Jesus walked. He prayed he could live up to Jesus' example.
On his return to Turkey, he obeyed Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor" and started giving away the money he'd inherited from his parents.
Stories that detail his giving "tell the impact ... made by a real personality who could not be forgotten or ignored," Michael Ramsey, an archbishop, said in 1956. "The crop of legends has fact behind it."
"The compelling evidence of (St. Nicholas') generosity ... both reflects and encourages the generosity we are all capable of, regardless of the season," wrote Marianna Mayer in "The Real Santa Claus."
Nicholas' devotion to God was so great, he was recognized as a saint before the Catholic Church began regular canonization.