Author Topic: St Nicholas of Myra  (Read 400 times)

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Offline poche

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St Nicholas of Myra
« on: December 06, 2013, 02:48:36 AM »
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  • Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra, is undoubtedly one of the most popular saints honored in the Western world. In the United States, his memory has survived in the unique personality of Saint Claus — the jolly, rotund, white-bearded gentleman who captivates children with promises of gifts on Christmas Eve. Considered primarily as the patron saint of children, Nicholas is also invoked by sailors, merchants, bakers, travelers and pawnbrokers, and with Saint Andrew is honored as the co-patron of Russia.

    In spite of his widespread fame, Saint Nicholas, from the historian's point of view, is hardly more than a name. He was born in the last years of the third century in Asia Minor. His uncle, the archbishop of Myra in Lycia, ordained him and appointed him abbot of a nearby monastery. At the death of the archbishop, Nicholas was chosen to fill the vacancy, and he served in this position until his death. About the time of the persecutions of Diocletian, he was imprisoned for preaching Christianity but was released during the reign of Emperor Constantine.

    Popular legends have involved Saint Nicholas in a number of charming stories, one of which relates Nicholas' charity toward the poor. A man of Patara had lost his fortune, and finding himself unable to support his three maiden daughters, was planning to turn them into the streets as prostitutes. Nicholas heard of the man's intentions and secretly threw three bags of gold through a window into the home, thus providing dowries for the daughters. The three bags of gold mentioned in this story are said to be the origin of the three gold balls that form the emblem of pawnbrokers.

    After Nicholas' death on December 6 in or around 345, his body was buried in the cathedral at Myra. It remained there until 1087, when seamen of Bari, an Italian coastal town, seized the relics of the saint and transferred them to their own city. Veneration for Nicholas had already spread throughout Europe as well as Asia, but this occurrence led to a renewal of devotion in the West. Countless miracles were attributed to the saint's intercession. His relics are still preserved in the church of San Nicola in Bari; an oily substance, known as Manna di S. Nicola, which is highly valued for its medicinal powers, is said to flow from them.

    The story of Saint Nicholas came to America in distorted fashion. The Dutch Protestants carried a popularized version of the saint's life to New Amsterdam, portraying Nicholas as nothing more than a Nordic magician and wonder-worker. Our present-day conception of Santa Claus has grown from this version. Catholics should think of Nicholas as a saint, a confessor of the faith and the bishop of Myra — not merely as a jolly man from the North Pole who brings happiness to small children. Many countries and locations honor St. Nicholas as patron: Greece, Russia, the Kingdom of Naples, Sicily, Lorraine, and many cities in Italy, Germany, Austria, and Belgium.

    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2013-12-06

    Offline poche

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    St Nicholas of Myra
    « Reply #1 on: December 06, 2013, 02:51:01 AM »
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  • The feast of St. Nicholas, bishop, falls on December 6, at the beginning of Advent. This day brings much celebrating, especially in Eastern Europe and Germanic countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Italy also celebrates this saint's day.


    DIRECTIONS
    In a time where Christmas commercialism is rampant, a family needs to try to keep the focus on what Advent and Christmas is all about. Advent is preparing for Christ's birth, both internally and externally. To shift the focus of the materialistic or "give me" common at Christmas, try giving stocking gifts on December 6 instead of Christmas Day. Shoes can be left outside the bedroom door, or stockings are hung by the fire on December 5th evening. St. Nicholas (instead of Santa Claus) comes by to brings cookies or gifts in the shoes or stockings.

    In Germanic countries, St. Nicholas is accompanied by Krampus, an evil spirit or little devil, usually dressed in fur or black with a long tail, and carries a rattling chain, birch branches and a big black bag. In Holland Sinterklass or Sinterklaus leaves from Spain on a boat, accompanied by Black Peter (Piet), his Moor servant. Peter wears animal skins or the traditional medieval Moorish colorful clothing. M December 5, St. Nicholas Eve, is known in some rural areas of Austria as "Krampus Day." Children and adults go to the village square to throw snowballs and try to chase off Krampus. Other Krampuses lie in wait, rattling their chains and threatening to carry off naughty children in their black bags, or to punish them with their birch branches. All this is done in fun; Krampus' main purpose is remind the children to be good.

    In most Germanic countries, St. Nicholas comes on December 5. Children leave their shoes on the windowsill or outside their bedroom door, and St. Nicholas rewards the children who have been good all year by filling up their shoes with goodies, such as nuts, fruits and sweets. Sometimes he comes on December 6, his actual feast day.

    In Austria, the good saint will appear in his flowing robes and bishop's mitre and carrying a bishop's staff. He carries a thick book which has the records the Guardian Angels have been keeping all year — all the good and bad deeds of the world's children. At the appointed time, the whole family is gathered for St. Nicholas' arrival. Krampus accompanies the bishop to scold naughty children. The bishop calls each child of the family forward to give an account of the year, and perhaps to recite their prayers. When Krampus tries to punish the naughty, St. Nicholas drives him away. After each child promises good behavior for the next year, he distributes the treats. Sometimes, in addition to the goodies, he rewards the children with birch branches decorated with candy, just as a reminder that Krampus is around if they should falter.

    Whether celebrated on the eve or December 6, this holiday is a great occasion for children and adults. See suggested recipes for this feast day.

    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=964


     

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