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December 6th - St Nicholas

St Nicholas
Feast Day: December 6th
Born: Patara, Lycia, Turkey 270AD
Died: Myra, Turkey 343AD
Known For: Apologist, "wonderworker", looking out for most vulnerable
Patron: merchants, sailors, children, false accused, repentant

I think when most of us think of St. Nicholas, we think of Santa Claus. The life of St. Nicholas, if I may dare to say, was so much more than that. Of course he is most known for his work with the most vulnerable in society. He looked out for orphans and underprivileged children. He would often sneak them little gifts thus creating the image of Santa Claus. He looked out for women in difficult relationships, difficult situations, or those in brothels. He spent time tending to the poor and crippled. For many of us, this is the story that we know. But Saint Nicholas was also a great apologist.

Nicholas was a big part of the Council of Nicaea. It was said that at one point, the debate between him and a man named Arius became so enthralling that Nicholas actually brought back his fist and punched him. This very scene is depicted in some artwork from the time. Of course today it has inspired many great memes (below). The story gets better from there. While in seclusion, it was said that Mary and Jesus appeared to Nicholas who had been stripped of his pallium (a sign of his office as a bishop) as well as his personal book of the Gospels (depicted in the Icon above). Mary placed his pallium back into his shoulders and Jesus gave him the book of the Gospels once more.

It was hard for the Council to refute that this had happened. He was officially restored to his position, but this time he was a little bit more calm. He was able to win the day with his reasoning and faith. And it is in large part due to St. Nicholas that on Sundays, when we recite the Nicene creed, that we say the words "...light from light, true God from true God. Begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father..."