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Saint Nicholas of Myra

The great won­der-work­er, swift helper of those in need, and fer­vent inter­ces­sor before God, Christ’s holy hier­ar­ch Nicholas, was born in Patara, a city in the province of Lycia. His par­ents were hon­or­able, well-born, wealthy folk and were Ortho­dox. Nicholas’ father was named Theo­phanes and his moth­er Non­na. Dwelling togeth­er in law­ful wed­lock, they were adorned with every virtue. Because of their God-pleas­ing way of life, numer­ous good deeds, and espe­cial­ly their unstint­ing alms­giv­ing, they, as holy roots, were deemed wor­thy to put forth a holy shoot, their blessed child. Like a tree which is plant­ed by the streams of waters, this cou­ple was vouch­safed to bring forth fruit in its sea­son. When their son was born, they gave him the name Nicholas, which means “vic­tor of the nations,” and tru­ly, with God’s help he proved vic­to­ri­ous over evil and became a bene­fac­tor of the whole world. After bear­ing Nicholas, Non­na nev­er again expe­ri­enced the pangs of birth: this blessed child was her first and last, nature itself con­firm­ing that it was impos­si­ble she should bear anoth­er son like Nicholas. He was sanc­ti­fied by divine grace while still in his mother’s womb, and his piety was made man­i­fest as soon as he appeared in the world. Prodi­gies and his love of fast­ing were in evi­dence even while his moth­er was still suck­ling him. From the moment he was put to the breast, it was clear that he would become the might­i­est of mir­a­cle-work­ers. He took milk only from his mother’s right side because he would one day stand on the Lord’s right hand with the blessed. Show­ing that he would become a great faster, on Wednes­days and Fri­days he suck­led just once, in the evening after his par­ents had com­plet­ed their usu­al rule of prayer. Theo­phanes and Non­na under­stood that he would one day be a strict ascetic, and they mar­veled exceed­ing­ly. Hav­ing grown accus­tomed to absti­nence while still in swad­dling clothes, Nicholas fast­ed every Wednes­day and Fri­day until his blessed repose. Sim­i­lar­ly, when placed in the font of Holy Bap­tism short­ly after his birth, he stood for three hours with­out assis­tance, there­by glo­ri­fy­ing the Holy Trin­i­ty, Whose emi­nent ser­vant he would become and before Whom he would be a medi­a­tor for all.

As the child grew, his under­stand­ing increased, and he was instruct­ed in the rules of good con­duct by his par­ents. The seed of Chris­t­ian teach­ing sprang up in his heart as though in a fer­tile field, every day bear­ing the fruit of excel­lent con­duct. The time soon came for him to begin the study of the divine Scrip­tures, and due to his nat­ur­al intel­li­gence and the guid­ance of the Holy Spir­it, he quick­ly achieved a pro­found under­stand­ing of their con­tents, such as befits a skill­ful helms­man of the ship of Christ’s Church and an expe­ri­enced shep­herd of ratio­nal sheep. He also proved him­self per­fect in the life of virtue, dis­tanc­ing him­self from vain acquain­tances and con­ver­sa­tions. He care­ful­ly guard­ed him­self from famil­iar speech with women and from look­ing women in the face. Atten­tive to pre­serv­ing true chasti­ty, he gazed upon God with a pure mind and was always to be found in the Lord’s holy church, ful­fill­ing the word of the Scrip­tures: I have cho­sen rather to be an out­cast in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of sin­ners. He fre­quent­ly spent the whole day and night in church, read­ing sacred books and engag­ing in men­tal prayer to God, exer­cis­ing him­self in reflec­tion upon edi­fy­ing themes, and prof­it­ing from the descent of the grace of the Holy Spir­it, for Whom he had made of him­self a wor­thy dwelling-place, in accor­dance with the say­ing: Ye are the tem­ple of God, and the Spir­it of God dwelleth in you. Since the Spir­it of God dwelt in Nicholas, he was entire­ly puri­fied and became alto­geth­er vir­tu­ous and spir­i­tu­al, his heart ever burn­ing with love as he labored for the Lord. No child­ish traits what­so­ev­er could be seen in him, but only those char­ac­ter­is­tic of old age. Because of this every­one was aston­ished at him and regard­ed him with deep respect. Tru­ly, if an old man’s behav­ior is like a youth’s, he becomes a laugh­ing­stock, because friv­o­li­ty is unseem­ly in a per­son of advanced years. How­ev­er, if a youth’s demeanor is like that of a respect­ed elder, he is held in hon­or since grav­i­ty is pleas­ing and wor­thy of esteem, espe­cial­ly in the young.

The blessed one had an uncle who was also named Nicholas and was Bish­op of Patara. It was for him that the younger Nicholas was named. See­ing his nephew advanc­ing in the life of virtue and dis­tanc­ing him­self from every­thing world­ly, the uncle advised Nicholas’ par­ents to ded­i­cate the young man to God’s ser­vice. They obeyed him, pre­sent­ing their son to the Lord Who entrust­ed him to them. In ancient books it is writ­ten con­cern­ing Nicholas’ father and moth­er that pri­or to the saint’s con­cep­tion they despaired of hav­ing a child, so they had con­tin­u­al­ly besought God with tears to grant them a son, and dis­trib­uted abun­dant alms in the hope of win­ning His favor. There­fore, they did not hes­i­tate to return Nicholas to the Lord. The Bish­op took the young elder, who was adorned with the gray hairs of wis­dom and the unspot­ted life of old age, and ele­vat­ed him to the sacred rank of pres­byter. Dur­ing the ordi­na­tion the Bish­op was filled with the Holy Spir­it, and turn­ing to the peo­ple in the church, proph­e­sied, “Lo, brethren, I see a new sun ris­ing over the earth, which shall become the con­so­la­tion of those who sor­row! Blessed is the flock deemed wor­thy to have Nicholas as its shep­herd! He shall tend well souls that have gone astray, pas­tur­ing them on the fields of piety, and be the ready helper of those in afflic­tion.” This prophe­cy was lat­er ful­filled, as will be seen from this narrative.

As a priest Saint Nicholas added to his labors, always fast­ing and keep­ing vig­il, pray­ing with­out ceas­ing and striv­ing to emu­late the life of the bod­i­less pow­ers although he was clothed in flesh. His soul shone brighter with virtue every day. At that time his uncle, Bish­op Nicholas, wished to vis­it Pales­tine and ven­er­ate the Holy Places there, and he entrust­ed the entire admin­is­tra­tion of the Church of Patara to his nephew. God’s priest Nicholas gave to the Church’s affairs the same close atten­tion as did his uncle. While Saint Nicholas was admin­is­ter­ing the dio­cese, his par­ents depart­ed this fleet­ing exis­tence for life eter­nal. They left their pos­ses­sions to their son, who dis­trib­uted them among those who begged alms of him. Nicholas him­self had no con­cern for tran­sient wealth and gave no thought to its increase, hav­ing renounced all earth­ly desires in order to sur­ren­der him­self whol­ly to God, to Whom he cried, Unto Thee, O Lord, have I lift­ed up my soul. Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God. On Thee was I cast from the womb; from my mother’s womb Thou art my God. Like a mighty riv­er from which flow many streams, his hand was always stretched out to give to those who asked. And now the time has come to tell of one of his numer­ous deeds of com­pas­sion, as a tes­ti­mo­ny to his generosity.

There was a man liv­ing in Patara who was once wealthy and renowned, but his for­tune waned. He fell into pover­ty and was scorned by those who before had regard­ed him high­ly. This man had three beau­ti­ful daugh­ters, and when the neces­si­ties of life began to fail him, he decid­ed to make his house a broth­el and sell their bod­ies. Oh, what wicked schemes are born of des­ti­tu­tion! The man had already devised his unseem­ly plan and was mak­ing prepa­ra­tions to ful­fill it when God, Who loves us and does not wish to see us per­ish, sent down grace into the heart of His favorite, the holy priest Nicholas, mys­ti­cal­ly inspir­ing him to assist the wretch and turn him away from sin. Hear­ing of the father’s pover­ty and learn­ing by divine rev­e­la­tion of his foul scheme, Nicholas felt deep pity for him and resolved to snatch him and his daugh­ters from penury and sin as if from fire, by giv­ing them gen­er­ous alms. How­ev­er, the saint did not want to help the man open­ly, for two rea­sons. First­ly, obe­di­ent to the words of the Gospel, Take heed that you do not your alms before men, he sought to avoid the emp­ty praise of men. Sec­ond­ly, since the man was once rich and had only recent­ly fall­en on bad times, Nicholas did not wish to humil­i­ate him. Know­ing how mor­ti­fy­ing it is for some­one who once enjoyed wealth and renown to accept alms (since he is remind­ed of his for­mer pros­per­i­ty), the saint thought it best to obey Christ’s words: Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth. So great was Nicholas’ desire to avoid praise that he attempt­ed to hide him­self even from those whom he assist­ed! He went at mid­night to the man’s home, threw a large bag of gold into the house through a win­dow, and fled. The next morn­ing, when he rose, the man found the bag and untied it. See­ing the gold, he became fright­ened, think­ing it was an illu­sion, since he knew of no one like­ly to aid him so gen­er­ous­ly. Only when he touched it did he become con­vinced that what he saw was real and per­mit him­self to weep with hap­pi­ness. Although he won­dered for a long time who might be his bene­fac­tor, he could think of no one. Ascrib­ing his good for­tune to prov­i­dence, he thanked God unceas­ing­ly, glo­ri­fy­ing the Lord Who cares for all men. With­out delay he mar­ried off his eldest daugh­ter, using the gold to pro­vide her dowry. Learn­ing what the man had done, the won­drous Nicholas was very pleased and pre­pared to assist the sec­ond daugh­ter. He made ready anoth­er bag of gold, of the same val­ue, and unknown to all, went by night and threw it into the man’s house through the same win­dow. When the father rose the next morn­ing and found the sec­ond bag, he was even more amazed than before, and falling to the floor, wept and cried, “O mer­ci­ful God, Who didst pur­chase my sal­va­tion with Thy pre­cious blood, Thou hast ran­somed my home and chil­dren from the snares of the ene­my! I beseech Thee to reveal to me who it was that accom­plished Thy will and served as min­is­ter of Thy kind­ness and love for man. Show me the earth­ly angel that hath pre­vent­ed us from per­ish­ing in sin, deliv­er­ing us from des­ti­tu­tion and my base plots. Behold, Lord, because Thy favourite hath assist­ed me so gen­er­ous­ly, I am now able to find a hus­band for my sec­ond daugh­ter and escape the nets of the dev­il, who hoped to mul­ti­ply mine evil deeds, which even before this mer­it­ed eter­nal punishment.”

Thank­ing the Lord for his kind­ness, the man cel­e­brat­ed the wed­ding of his sec­ond daugh­ter. He trust­ed that God would pro­vide a law­ful hus­band for his third child and again send him the mon­ey he need­ed. Because he wished to know who was bring­ing the gold, he did not sleep at night, but watched in the hope of catch­ing sight of his secret patron. It was not long before Christ’s favorite came a third time, walk­ing very qui­et­ly, and again cast a bag of mon­ey through the win­dow. The father heard it strik­ing the floor and ran as fast as he could in pur­suit of the saint. When he caught up with him, he rec­og­nized Nicholas, who was known to all because of his vir­tu­ous life and noble ances­try. He fell at the holy priest’s feet and kissed them, call­ing the saint his helper and deliv­er­er and the res­cuer of souls. “If the mer­ci­ful Lord had not inspired you to come to my aid,” he exclaimed, “my daugh­ters and I, the wretch, would have per­ished in the fires of Sodom. But glo­ry to God, you have saved us from a griev­ous fall!” Only with the great­est dif­fi­cul­ty did Nicholas suc­ceed in rais­ing him to his feet and com­pelling him to swear that he would tell no one what had occurred as long as his bene­fac­tor remained alive. After speak­ing to the man at length about things prof­itable to the soul, the saint per­mit­ted him to return home.

From this sto­ry it is evi­dent what deep sym­pa­thy Saint Nicholas had for the poor. It would be impos­si­ble to tell every exam­ple of his gen­eros­i­ty to beg­gars or to enu­mer­ate the hun­gry peo­ple he fed, the naked he clothed, or the debtors he deliv­ered from usurers.

Some time lat­er, our ven­er­a­ble father decid­ed to vis­it Pales­tine and ven­er­ate the Holy Places in the land where our Lord and God Jesus Christ once walked. While his ship was sail­ing off the coast of Egypt, Saint Nicholas fore­saw that a vio­lent tem­pest was about to arise although no one else sus­pect­ed this. The god­ly one told the oth­ers what would occur, explain­ing that he had seen the dev­il him­self enter the ship, intend­ing to sink it and drown the pas­sen­gers. At once black clouds appeared in the sky and a vio­lent storm arose, churn­ing up the sea. All were seized with fear and entreat­ed Nicholas to res­cue them. In despair they cried, “Unless you pray God to save us, O favorite of the Lord, we shall cer­tain­ly be swal­lowed by the deep!”

Advis­ing pas­sen­gers and crew to take courage and put their hope in God, the saint sent up fer­vent sup­pli­ca­tion to the Lord. A great calm at once set­tled upon the waters, and the pas­sen­gers’ ter­ror turned to joy. They thanked God and His favorite, our holy father Nicholas, mar­veling at how he had both fore­told the storm and accom­plished their deliv­er­ance. Then, how­ev­er, one of the sailors, who had climbed to the top of the ship’s mast to attend to a sail, fell to the deck as he was descend­ing and was killed. But Saint Nicholas, ever ready to help even before called upon, restored the man to life as though he had mere­ly been asleep. A fair wind filled the sails, and the boat quick­ly made for the port of Alexan­dria where it docked. There God’s favorite healed many sick peo­ple and cast out demons, bring­ing con­so­la­tion to the afflict­ed. Even­tu­al­ly he resumed his jour­ney to Palestine.

When he arrived in the holy city of Jerusalem, Saint Nicholas went to Gol­go­tha, where Christ God stretched out His most pure hands upon the Cross to save the race of man. Oh, what fer­vent prayers did he pour out there from a heart burn­ing with love, send­ing up thanks to our Sav­iour! He then went to all the oth­er Holy Places, wor­ship­ping unhur­ried­ly at each of them. One night, when he wished to enter the church on Mount Zion to pray, its locked doors swung open to him for whom the gates of heav­en were also open. Hav­ing remained for some time in Jerusalem, Nicholas was prepar­ing to trav­el into the desert, but a voice from heav­en com­mand­ed him to return to his home­land. God, Who orders all things for our ben­e­fit, did not wish that the lamp He had pre­pared to illu­mine Lycia be hid­den beneath a bas­ket. The saint found a boat sup­pos­ed­ly bound for his home­land and arranged with its crew for his pas­sage. The sailors, how­ev­er, had devised a wicked scheme and intend­ed to sail not to Lycia but to anoth­er coun­try. Short­ly after the boat cast off, Saint Nicholas real­ized that it was not head­ed in the right direc­tion, and he fell at the feet of the sailors, beseech­ing them to change their course. Pay­ing him no heed, they con­tin­ued on, not under­stand­ing that God would nev­er for­sake His favorite. Sud­den­ly a storm arose, dri­ving the ship swift­ly toward Lycia. Thus borne across the sea by the might of God, Nicholas reached his des­ti­na­tion. Since the saint was a stranger to mal­ice, he did not seek revenge on the treach­er­ous sailors, nor was he angry with them. He did not utter a sin­gle word of accu­sa­tion; instead, after giv­ing them his bless­ing, he let them depart.

Upon his return to Lycia, the saint went to the Monastery of Holy Zion found­ed by his uncle, the Bish­op of Patara. The brethren were over­joyed to see him and greet­ed him with the rev­er­ence due one of God’s angels. Tak­ing delight in his divine­ly inspired words and great­ly edi­fied by his way of life, which indeed rivaled that of the heav­en­ly pow­ers, they sought to emu­late the vir­tu­ous con­duct that was the adorn­ment of the Lord’s faith­ful ser­vant. Saint Nicholas found the monastery to be a haven of silence con­ducive to reflec­tion on the Divin­i­ty, and hoped to remain there in seclu­sion for the rest of his life. But God was not pleased that the great trea­sure-chest of every excel­lence, which He intend­ed to use to enrich the world, should remain hid­den in a lit­tle cell in a monastery, buried, as it were, in the ground. It was His will that it be revealed to all cre­ation and employed to make spir­i­tu­al pur­chas­es and gain numer­ous souls. Thus it was that one day while the saint was stand­ing at prayer, he heard a voice say, “Nicholas, if you wish to receive a crown from Me, labor for the good of oth­ers.” The saint had still not regained his com­po­sure when he heard the voice again, say­ing, “Nicholas, this is not the vine­yard where you will bear fruit for Me. Return to the world and glo­ri­fy My name there.” Saint Nicholas real­ized that it was God’s will that he aban­don his soli­tude, and strive for the sal­va­tion of men. He was still uncer­tain, how­ev­er, whether he ought to return to Patara or go elsewhere.

After pon­der­ing the mat­ter, the saint decid­ed it best to go to a city where he was unknown, since he knew that in Patara he was held in esteem by every­one. Now in the land of Lycia there is a renowned city named Myra, the provin­cial cap­i­tal, to which the Lord guid­ed Saint Nicholas. No one knew him there, so he made it his home and lived among the poor with­out a place to rest his head. His sole haven was the house of the Lord God.

At this time John, the Arch­bish­op of the city, died, and the bish­ops of the land assem­bled in Myra to elect a wor­thy suc­ces­sor. Sev­er­al noble, respect­ed men were nom­i­nat­ed, but the bish­ops could not reach agree­ment on any of them. Then some of the hier­ar­chs, moved by divine zeal, declared that the Arch­bish­op of the coun­try ought not be select­ed by men, but by Prov­i­dence. If they turned to prayer, they main­tained, the Lord Him­self would reveal who was wor­thy to assume the rank of arch­bish­op and become chief shep­herd of Lycia. This good coun­sel met with gen­er­al approval, and the bish­ops devot­ed them­selves to fer­vent prayer and fasting.

The Lord, Who hear­kens to the entreaty of those who fear Him, deigned to reveal His will in the fol­low­ing man­ner to one of the eldest bish­ops. While the Bish­op was pray­ing, a radi­ant man appeared, com­mand­ing him to stand that night by the doors of the church and observe who entered the build­ing first. “That man,” said He, “is filled with My Spir­it. Receive him with hon­or and make him arch­bish­op; his name is Nicholas.”

The Bish­op informed the oth­er hier­ar­chs of the divine vision and told them what he had been com­mand­ed. Hear­ing this, they redou­bled their prayers. Then the Bish­op went to the church and stood by the door­way, await­ing Nicholas’ com­ing. When the time for Matins drew near, Saint Nicholas, who always rose at mid­night to pray, went to the church, arriv­ing as usu­al before the oth­er wor­ship­pers. The Bish­op stopped him as he entered the narthex and asked, “What is your name, child?”

At first the saint did not reply, but since the Bish­op repeat­ed the ques­tion, he answered, “My name is Nicholas, Mas­ter, and I am Your Holi­ness’ servant.”

Both from his name and the meek, hum­ble, and calm man­ner in which the reply was made, the holy Bish­op knew that the man who stood before him was the one cho­sen by God to be Arch­bish­op of Lycia. Recall­ing the Scrip­ture which says that the Lord will look upon the man who is meek and qui­et and hum­ble of heart, the Bish­op rejoiced exceed­ing­ly, as though he had found a great trea­sure. He took Nicholas by the hand and said, “Fol­low me, child.”

Nicholas was pre­sent­ed to the bish­ops, who, filled with spir­i­tu­al delight because God had revealed His choice, escort­ed the saint back to the church. Word of what had hap­pened spread rapid­ly, and a mul­ti­tude assem­bled in God’s tem­ple so quick­ly it seemed borne there on wings. The Bish­op who saw the vision addressed the con­gre­ga­tion with these words: “Receive, brethren, your shep­herd, whom the Holy Spir­it has anoint­ed and to whom He has entrust­ed the care of your souls. He was cho­sen not by an assem­bly of men but by God Him­self. We have found him whom we sought, and under his good guid­ance and instruc­tion, we shall nev­er lose hope of stand­ing before the Lord on the day of His return.”

The great assem­bly gave thanks to God, and the people’s joy knew no mea­sure. Saint Nicholas, how­ev­er, who hat­ed the praise of men, at first refused the hier­ar­chal rank. Nev­er­the­less, he had seen a vision before the death of the last Arch­bish­op in which he was com­mand­ed to accept con­se­cra­tion, so in the end he sub­mit­ted unwill­ing­ly to the per­sis­tent entreaties of cler­gy and laity. Con­cern­ing this vision Saint Method­ius, the Patri­arch of Con­stan­tino­ple, writes, “One night, Saint Nicholas saw our Sav­iour stand­ing before him, radi­ant with glo­ry. The Lord gave him a gospel adorned with gold and pearls. Beside him the saint beheld the most holy Theotokos, who placed upon his shoul­ders an omophori­on, the sym­bol of epis­co­pal dig­ni­ty. A few days lat­er John, the Arch­bish­op of Myra, breathed his last, and Nicholas became his successor.”

Remem­ber­ing the vision and bow­ing to God’s will, the saint accept­ed the faith­ful of Myra as his flock. The bish­ops, assist­ed by oth­er cler­gy, per­formed the usu­al rite of con­se­cra­tion, and all the peo­ple cel­e­brat­ed the appoint­ment of their divine­ly cho­sen shep­herd. Thus a bril­liant lumi­nary was giv­en to God’s Church, not to be hid­den beneath a bas­ket, but to be set in a fit­ting place whence it could shine bright­ly. And indeed, at all times this holy hier­ar­ch of Christ right­ly divid­ed the word of truth, instruct­ing his flock in the teach­ings of Orthodoxy.

At the very begin­ning of his epis­co­pal ser­vice God’s favorite said to him­self, “Nicholas, the rank you hold demands that you con­duct your­self dif­fer­ent­ly from oth­er men. Now you must live for oth­ers.” Wish­ing to instill the virtues in his flock, he did not con­ceal his good deeds as before. His way of life became known to every­one, not because he wished to enjoy adu­la­tion, but so that the Chris­tians might be edi­fied and glo­ri­fy God. In him the words of the Gospel were ful­filled: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glo­ri­fy your Father which is in heav­en. The saint served as an exam­ple to all, and was, in the words of the Apos­tle, an exam­ple to the believ­ers, in word, in con­ver­sa­tion, in char­i­ty, in spir­it, in faith, in puri­ty. He was meek and for­giv­ing, hum­ble in spir­it, and fled every­thing vain­glo­ri­ous. His cloth­ing was sim­ple, his food lenten, and he ate only once dai­ly, in the evening. The whole day long he occu­pied him­self with the respon­si­bil­i­ties of his office, and was always will­ing to give an audi­ence to those who came to him with requests. The doors of his house were nev­er shut, for he strove to be acces­si­ble to all: a father to orphans, a char­i­ta­ble patron of the needy, the helper of the wronged, and the bene­fac­tor of every Chris­t­ian soul entrust­ed to his care. To assist him in his pas­toral labors and the admin­is­tra­tion of the Church, Nicholas appoint­ed two pru­dent coun­selors, men known and respect­ed even by the unbe­liev­ers of Myra: Paul of Rhodes and Theodore of Ascalon, both priests.

See­ing Saint Nicholas tend well the ratio­nal sheep of Christ’s flock, the dev­il, that evil ser­pent which nev­er ceas­es to bring temp­ta­tions upon God’s ser­vants, grew ever more envi­ous. Unable to endure the sight of piety flour­ish­ing, he incit­ed the Roman emper­ors Dio­clet­ian and Max­imi­an to ini­ti­ate a per­se­cu­tion of Christ’s Church. The rulers issued through­out their domains an edict com­mand­ing the faith­ful to renounce Christ and wor­ship the idols. Who­ev­er refused to obey was to be fet­tered and impris­oned, tor­tured and exe­cut­ed. The evil storm soon reached Myra, but the blessed Nicholas, who was ready to suf­fer for the Lord, con­tin­ued to preach the faith of Christ open­ly. It was not long before he was seized by the per­se­cu­tors and impris­oned with many oth­er Chris­tians. Nicholas remained in con­fine­ment for a long time, suf­fer­ing great­ly from hunger and thirst and the over­crowd­ed con­di­tion of the dun­geon. His fel­low pris­on­ers, how­ev­er, he nur­tured con­stant­ly with the word of God, giv­ing them the sweet waters of piety to drink and con­firm­ing them in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. He set their feet upon the unshak­able foun­da­tion of trust in the Lord, and exhort­ed them to remain firm in their con­fes­sion of Christ and to suf­fer eager­ly for the truth. In time the storm of per­se­cu­tion end­ed, and the tran­quil­i­ty of free­dom returned for the Chris­tians. The truth of the Gospel shone again like the sun break­ing through dark clouds, and Christ, Who loves mankind, looked upon His inher­i­tance and put an end to hea­then rule. The Lord raised up a horn of sal­va­tion for His peo­ple, the holy Cross, which appeared to the new Emper­or Con­stan­tine, who assumed author­i­ty over the Roman Empire. Acknowl­edg­ing the one God and plac­ing his trust in Him, Con­stan­tine pre­vailed over his ene­mies by the pow­er of the Cross. He com­mand­ed that pagan tem­ples be lev­eled and Chris­t­ian church­es be built, thus destroy­ing the vain hopes of his pre­de­ces­sors. Those impris­oned for Christ’s sake were hon­ored as coura­geous sol­diers of the Lord. The released Chris­tians returned to their homes, and the city of Myra received back its pas­tor, the great hier­ar­ch Nicholas, who, as a con­fes­sor, wore the crown of mar­tyr­dom though his blood was not shed. By the grace of Christ he con­tin­ued as before to heal the pas­sions and infir­mi­ties of believ­ers and unbe­liev­ers alike. Because God’s grace was abun­dant­ly present in him, he was great­ly esteemed and loved, and every­one mar­veled at him. He labored for the Lord in holi­ness and right­eous­ness, and shone with puri­ty of heart and every divine gift.

At that time numer­ous pagan tem­ples remained in use, and the demons con­tin­ued to entice the unbe­liev­ers to wor­ship in them, so bring­ing about the perdi­tion of many cit­i­zens of Myra. Moved by divine zeal, the god­ly hier­ar­ch began trav­el­ling through the dis­trict, demol­ish­ing the hea­then tem­ples and cleans­ing the land of demon­ic defile­ment. As Saint Nicholas was bat­tling in this way, he came to the enor­mous, beau­ti­ful­ly adorned sanc­tu­ary of Artemis, the espe­cial­ly beloved abode of his invis­i­ble ene­mies. When he destroyed this vile tem­ple, the saint did not hes­i­tate to pull up the very foun­da­tions. Quak­ing with fear every time they saw Christ’s invin­ci­ble ser­vant approach, the dev­ils would cry out and moan; and unable to resist the prayers of the holy hier­ar­ch, would take to their heels.

Some time lat­er, the right-believ­ing Emper­or Con­stan­tine, wish­ing to strength­en the Chris­t­ian faith, com­mand­ed that an ecu­meni­cal coun­cil be held in the city of Nicaea. The holy fathers who assem­bled there clear­ly defined the doc­trines of Ortho­doxy, anath­e­ma­tiz­ing both the Ari­an heresy and Arius, that cor­rupter of the faith and sow­er of the tares of impi­ety. They pro­claimed the Son to be equal in hon­or and of one essence with the Father and reestab­lished peace in the apos­tolic Church. The won­drous Nicholas was one of the 318 fathers attend­ing this Coun­cil, at which he valiant­ly strug­gled against Arius. With the oth­er holy fathers, he upheld the dog­mas of the faith, deliv­er­ing them intact to his flock.

John, a monk of Studi­um, writes that Saint Nicholas was filled with divine zeal at the Coun­cil like a sec­ond Eli­jah, and bold­ly assailed Arius not only with words but also with blows, strik­ing him upon the face. Indig­nant with the saint for his audac­i­ty, the holy fathers stripped him of the emblems of the hier­ar­chal rank. Our Lord Jesus Christ and His most blessed Moth­er, how­ev­er, were look­ing down from on high on Saint Nicholas’ labors for the holy faith and were very pleased with his dar­ing. Sev­er­al of the most emi­nent fathers of the Coun­cil beheld a vision sim­i­lar to that which Nicholas had seen before his con­se­cra­tion. On one side of the saint they saw Christ return­ing the gospel that had been tak­en from him; on the oth­er, the most pure Vir­gin giv­ing him back his omophori­on. The bish­ops under­stood that Nicholas’ bold­ness was pleas­ing to God: they stopped reprov­ing him and began to revere him deeply. Upon his return from the Coun­cil, Saint Nicholas pub­licly instruct­ed the peo­ple, bestow­ing the Lord’s bless­ing on them. From his sweet lips he impart­ed to his flock sound teach­ing, cut­ting off at the root the strange, dis­eased doc­trines of the heretics, men hard­ened in wicked­ness, whom he expelled from the fold. Just as an expe­ri­enced farmer skill­ful­ly sep­a­rates wheat from dar­nel on his thresh­ing-floor and mill­stone, so Christ’s wise thresh­er, Saint Nicholas, filled the Lord’s spir­i­tu­al gra­nary with good wheat and cast far away the tares of the heretics. Because of this the Holy Church refers to him as the fan that scat­ters the tares of Arius’ teach­ing. Tru­ly, he was a light unto the world and the salt of the earth; his life was radi­ant with light and his speech salt­ed with wis­dom. Fur­ther­more, this good shep­herd not only took care to pro­vide spir­i­tu­al pas­ture for the mem­bers of his flock, but food for their bod­ies as well, since he had great con­cern for all their needs. Once, when a hor­ri­ble famine was rag­ing in the land of Lycia and no food remained in Myra, God’s hier­ar­ch, out of com­pas­sion for the starv­ing, appeared in a dream to a mer­chant in Italy who owned a ship filled with wheat. Giv­ing him three gold coins as a deposit, Saint Nicholas direct­ed him to sail for Myra and sell his wheat there. When the mer­chant awoke, he was aston­ished to find the three gold pieces in his hand. He dared not dis­obey, but left direct­ly for Myra where he sold the grain. He did not remain silent about the mir­a­cle, so the cit­i­zens learned how their deliv­er­ance had come to pass. They sent up glo­ry and thanks­giv­ing to God and blessed their bene­fac­tor, the great and won­drous hier­ar­ch Nicholas.

It was about this time that a revolt took place in Great Phry­gia. Hear­ing of it, the Emper­or Con­stan­tine sent three gen­er­als with troops to restore order. The gen­er­als, Nepot­ian, Ursus, and Her­pylion, sailed from Con­stan­tino­ple, stop­ping at the place on the coast of the dio­cese of Myra called “The Adri­at­ic Shore.” Here there was a port, and since rough seas did not per­mit them to pro­ceed fur­ther, they remained in the safe­ty of the har­bor. When troops were sent into the town to buy pro­vi­sions, they took many things by force, as is the cus­tom with sol­diers. Since they did this repeat­ed­ly, they enraged the towns­folk. Final­ly there was a vio­lent con­fronta­tion at the place called Plako­ma­ta. When Saint Nicholas learned of this, he quick­ly set off to quell the strife. The towns­peo­ple and the gen­er­als went out to meet him, falling pros­trate as soon as they caught sight of him. The saint advised the gen­er­als to exer­cise greater con­trol over their troops, so that they could not tyr­an­nize the peo­ple, after which he entered the city and invit­ed them to share his sup­per. The gen­er­als dis­ci­plined their sol­diers and put an end to the dis­tur­bances; and thus they were deemed wor­thy to receive the saint’s blessing.

In the mean­time sev­er­al cit­i­zens of Myra arrived, weep­ing and lament­ing. They fell at the saint’s feet, beg­ging him to help three inno­cent men sen­tenced to death by the Gov­er­nor, Eustathius, who was bribed by jeal­ous evil­do­ers. “Because of this injus­tice,” they said, “the whole city is in tur­moil and awaits your return. If you had been there, Mas­ter, the Gov­er­nor would nev­er have dared pass such a verdict.”

When he heard this, God’s hier­ar­ch was deeply trou­bled and set off for Myra at once, accom­pa­nied by the three gen­er­als and their troops. On the way, at the place called Leon, they came upon trav­el­ers whom they asked, “Do you know any­thing about the three men who were con­demned to death at Myra?”

We left them at the field of Cas­tor and Pol­lux. They were being led to exe­cu­tion,” the trav­el­ers replied. At this, Saint Nicholas con­tin­ued in haste, hop­ing to find the men still alive. Reach­ing the place of exe­cu­tion, he saw a large crowd assem­bled and the three con­demned men kneel­ing on the ground. They await­ed behead­ing with their hands bound, their heads cov­ered, and their necks bared. The exe­cu­tion­er, wear­ing a grim, vio­lent expres­sion, was about to let the sword fall. Tru­ly, it was a dread­ful spec­ta­cle that would have brought tears to anyone’s eyes! Quick­ly mak­ing his way through the crowd, his face reveal­ing both anger and humil­i­ty, Christ’s holy hier­ar­ch fear­less­ly and with­out hes­i­ta­tion tore the sword from the executioner’s hand and threw it to the ground. He bold­ly ordered that the pris­on­ers be loosed, and no one dared inter­fere, for his com­mands were issued with great author­i­ty; divine pow­er plain­ly assist­ed him in every­thing he did, and he was beloved of God and held in awe by all men. The three pris­on­ers, deliv­ered from the sword and unex­pect­ed­ly returned from the gates of death, shed tears of joy and cried out in heart­felt grat­i­tude, and every­one assem­bled there thanked the saint. Then the Gov­er­nor arrived, but when he fell at Nicholas’ feet, God’s favorite dis­dain­ful­ly pushed him away, call­ing down the Lord’s vengeance upon him. The saint also threat­ened to tell the Emper­or what had tak­en place, and warned Eustathius that he would be sub­ject­ed to hor­ri­ble tor­ments for fail­ing to admin­is­ter jus­tice. Reproached by his con­science and ter­ri­fied by the saint’s threats, Eustathius tear­ful­ly begged mer­cy and began to pray fer­vent­ly to God, repent­ing of the evil he had done and seek­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with our holy father. He laid the blame for what had hap­pened on Simonides and Eudox­ius, elders of the city, but the truth could not be hid­den, since the saint knew well that the deci­sion to put the blame­less men to death was bought with a bribe. Mean­while, the peo­ple con­tin­ued to exclaim their grat­i­tude. They per­suad­ed Christ’s favorite to for­give the Gov­er­nor, but with the great­est dif­fi­cul­ty. Indeed, they suc­ceed­ed in this only because Eustathius him­self final­ly con­fessed tear­ful­ly and humbly that it was he and no one else who was respon­si­ble for the injustice.

See­ing this, the three gen­er­als mar­veled at the right­eous­ness of God’s great hier­ar­ch. After the saint had prayed for them and giv­en his bless­ing, they con­tin­ued on to Phry­gia with their men, to ful­fill the Emperor’s com­mand. There they put down the rebel­lion, restored peace, and hav­ing accom­plished every­thing they had been ordered to do, returned to Byzan­tium where they were greet­ed with praise and hon­or by the Emper­or Con­stan­tine and all the nobil­i­ty. They were giv­en posi­tions at court and appoint­ed to serve on the impe­r­i­al coun­cil. Some time lat­er, how­ev­er, jeal­ous men began plot­ting against them. They went to Eulav­ius, the Eparch of the city, and slan­dered them, say­ing, “The three gen­er­als do not give the Emper­or good advice and are said to be schem­ing against him; more­over, they have intro­duced sense­less inno­va­tions in the affairs of the realm.”

With this, they gave the Pre­fect a large quan­ti­ty of gold. He denounced the gen­er­als to the Emper­or, who had all three impris­oned with­out ques­tion­ing them, say­ing that he was afraid they would slip away and suc­ceed in accom­plish­ing their wicked plans. The gen­er­als, who were clapped in fet­ters, had no idea why they had been impris­oned and knew only that they had done noth­ing wrong. Soon the slan­der­ers began to wor­ry that they might them­selves be pun­ished for mak­ing untrue accu­sa­tions. They returned to the Pre­fect, there­fore, and implored him to put the men to death at once. Ensnared in the net of avarice, the Eparch agreed. He appeared before Con­stan­tine with eyes down­cast and a sor­row­ful look upon his face, as though he were bring­ing evil tid­ings, and filled the ruler’s ears with tales intend­ed to incite his wrath against the inno­cent, hop­ing also to prove how great was his fideli­ty and con­cern for the Emperor’s life. “None of the impris­oned men wish to repent,” he said, his tongue drip­ping with deceit. “All three con­tin­ue to intrigue as before, plot­ting evil against you. Com­mand that they be tor­tured with­out delay, so that their wicked schemes may be brought to an end.”

The Emper­or, alarmed by the Eparch’s words, con­demned the men to death. Since it was evening, how­ev­er, the exe­cu­tion was delayed until the next morn­ing. The prison guard learned of this, and lament­ing the mis­for­tune threat­en­ing the blame­less gen­er­als, went to them and said, “It would have been bet­ter if we had nev­er met and I had nev­er enjoyed your com­pa­ny or shared my food with you! Then I could eas­i­ly have endured our sep­a­ra­tion, with­out sor­row over the com­ing dis­as­ter. Tomor­row we shall be part­ed, and I shall nev­er again see your dear faces, nor ever hear you speak, for the com­mand has been issued to put you to death. Tell me, there­fore, before bit­ter doom over­takes you, what you wish done with your possessions.”

The three inno­cent men ripped their clothes and tore their hair, cry­ing, “What ene­my has done this? What crime have we com­mit­ted to deserve exe­cu­tion?” They called upon God and all their friends and rel­a­tives as wit­ness­es that they had done no evil, and they wept bit­ter­ly. Then one of them, Nepot­ian, remem­bered how Saint Nicholas had proved a swift helper and glo­ri­ous defend­er for the con­demned in Myra. All three began to pray, “O God of Nicholas, Who didst deliv­er those unjust­ly sen­tenced to death in Myra, look down upon us, for we have no helper on earth. Lo, a great mis­for­tune is about to befall us, and there is none to deliv­er us. Our voic­es have grown fee­ble and our tongues are parched, burnt up by the fire of our hearts’ dis­tress; we have not the strength to pray as we should. But let Thy com­pas­sions quick­ly go before us, O Lord; res­cue us out of the hands of those who seek our souls. They intend to put us to death tomor­row, but do Thou has­ten to our aid and deliv­er us.”

The Lord heard the entreaties of the con­demned, and like a father moved by com­pas­sion for his sons, sent the great hier­ar­ch Nicholas to the assis­tance of those God-fear­ing men. That night while the Emper­or was sleep­ing, Christ’s hier­ar­ch appeared to him and said, “Arise quick­ly, and free the gen­er­als who are being held in prison. They are the vic­tims of slan­der and suf­fer unjust­ly.” The saint explained the affair to him in detail and warned, “If you do not obey me, an upris­ing worse than the one in Phry­gia will erupt, and you will per­ish miserably.”

Mar­veling how some­one could be so bold as to enter the inner cham­bers of the palace by night, Con­stan­tine demand­ed, “Who are you? How dare you threat­en us and our impe­r­i­al authority!”

My name is Nicholas,” the saint replied, “and I am Arch­bish­op of Myra.”

The Emper­or awoke amazed and trou­bled by the dream. Mean­while, on that same night, the saint also appeared in a dream to Eulav­ius, reproach­ing him for his evil deeds, warn­ing of impend­ing revolt, and threat­en­ing him with death. Eulav­ius was ter­ri­fied and, like Con­stan­tine, was left pon­der­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of the vision. Soon a mes­sen­ger arrived and told him what the Emper­or had seen. The Eparch then hur­ried to his mas­ter and con­fessed every­thing. Each was amazed at the other’s sto­ry, and the Emper­or com­mand­ed that the gen­er­als be brought to him. He con­front­ed them, say­ing, “The Pre­fect and I both dreamed we saw the same man warn­ing us that an upris­ing would break out if you were not freed. What sor­cery did you employ to bring this about?”

The gen­er­als could only look at one anoth­er in per­plex­i­ty, since they knew noth­ing about an insur­rec­tion on their behalf. See­ing their con­fused expres­sions, Constantine’s anger cooled and he told them, “Do not be afraid; speak the truth.”

The gen­er­als plead­ed, “We know noth­ing of sor­cery and have nev­er plot­ted evil or con­sid­ered doing you harm. God, Who sees every­thing, is our wit­ness to this. If you can dis­cov­er any­thing to prove our words false, show us no mer­cy, nor any of our rel­a­tives. Our par­ents taught us to revere the sov­er­eign and show him the utmost fideli­ty. We have always defend­ed your per­son and res­olute­ly ful­filled your com­mands, doing our duty as men of high rank. We put down the revolt in Phry­gia, sub­du­ing your foes, and our deeds there offer abun­dant tes­ti­mo­ny to our courage. Pre­vi­ous­ly Your Majesty heaped awards and glo­ry upon us, but now you have turned against us, piti­less­ly con­demn­ing us to a wretched death. How could it be that our zeal to serve you has brought us to these straits?”

His heart soft­ened, the Emper­or repent­ed for hav­ing mis­treat­ed the gen­er­als. He trem­bled at the thought of God’s judg­ment and felt ashamed to wear the pur­ple robes that sig­ni­fy the impe­r­i­al rank, since he, the law­giv­er, had proved quick to pass a law­less sen­tence. While he con­versed with the men, speak­ing to them now in a meek and com­pas­sion­ate voice, Saint Nicholas appeared, sit­ting beside the Emper­or and sig­nalling to the gen­er­als that they would be for­giv­en. Only they could see the saint. They exclaimed in aston­ish­ment, “O God of Nicholas, Who didst deliv­er the three men in Myra from an unde­served death, res­cue Thy ser­vants from misfortune!”

The Emper­or demand­ed, “Who is this Nicholas, and who are the men he saved?”

Nepot­ian explained, and the Emper­or, acknowl­edg­ing Nicholas as a great favorite of God, freed the gen­er­als. Mar­veling at the saint’s zeal in defend­ing the wronged, he said, “It is not I who grant you your lives, but Nicholas, the Lord’s ser­vant, upon whom you called for help. Leave now and go thank him. I beg you to con­vey this mes­sage to him from me: I have obeyed your com­mand; do not be angry with me, O hier­ar­ch of Christ!”

With this Con­stan­tine entrust­ed to the men a gold-cov­ered gospel, a censer made of gold and adorned with bril­liant jew­els, and two lamps, instruct­ing them to give these as a gift to the Church of Myra. The gen­er­als rejoiced when, arriv­ing in Myra, they again saw the saint, whom they warm­ly thanked for his help. They did not for­get to express their grat­i­tude to God, but sang with David, Lord, O Lord, who is like unto Thee, deliv­er­ing the beg­gar from the hand of them that are stronger than he? After dis­trib­ut­ing con­sid­er­able alms to the poor, the gen­er­als returned with­out fur­ther dif­fi­cul­ties to their homes. Such are the works of the omnipo­tent God, Who ever mag­ni­fies His favorite! Their fame has spread every­where, as if borne on wings through­out the world, so that there is no place where the Lord’s mir­a­cles, worked through the great hier­ar­ch Nicholas, remain unknown.

A ship was once sail­ing from Egypt to Myra when a vio­lent storm arose, churn­ing up the sea. The sails were torn, and it seemed that the ves­sel itself would be crushed by the mighty waves. The pas­sen­gers were in despair of their lives when they remem­bered the great hier­ar­ch Nicholas. Although none of them had ever seen him, they had heard that he was the quick helper of those who call on him in mis­for­tune, so they turned to him in prayer, beg­ging his assis­tance. The saint imme­di­ate­ly appeared, announc­ing, “You called for me, and I have come to help you!” He took the helm and began pilot­ing the ship, calm­ing the storm, as once did the Lord, Who said, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also. Because he was a faith­ful ser­vant of God, Nicholas gave com­mands to the wind and sea and they obeyed him. Sped by a fair wind, the boat reached Myra, and the pas­sen­gers dis­em­barked, hop­ing to see the holy Bish­op. They met the saint on his way to church, and rec­og­niz­ing their bene­fac­tor, fell at his feet, thank­ing him. The won­drous Nicholas did not mere­ly deliv­er them from dan­ger of phys­i­cal death, but took thought for the sal­va­tion of their souls as well. Because he was clair­voy­ant, he per­ceived that some of the pas­sen­gers were defiled by for­ni­ca­tion, which estranges a man from God and caus­es him to neglect the Lord’s com­mand­ments. “Chil­dren,” he said to them, “I beseech you to cor­rect your hearts and thoughts, so that you may be pleas­ing to God. Con­sid­er that although we may reck­on our­selves to be right­eous and fre­quent­ly suc­ceed in deceiv­ing men, we can con­ceal noth­ing from God. Let us there­fore strive to pre­serve the holi­ness of our souls and to guard the puri­ty of our bod­ies with all fer­vor. Ye are the tem­ple of God, says the divine Apos­tle Paul; If any man defile the tem­ple of God, him shall God destroy.” So say­ing, the blessed one, like a lov­ing father, let them depart in peace.

Saint Nicholas’ coun­te­nance resem­bled that of an angel, splen­did with divine grace. A bril­liant ray shone from his face, as from Moses’, so that those who looked at him were aston­ished. Who­ev­er was oppressed by some afflic­tion or pas­sion of soul had only to lay eyes on the saint, and his sor­row was eased at once. As for those who con­versed with him, they soon found them­selves advanc­ing on the path of virtue. Not only the faith­ful but unbe­liev­ers as well were moved to com­punc­tion and direct­ed their steps toward sal­va­tion when they heard his sweet lips speak; the evil of unbe­lief implant­ed in their hearts since child­hood was uproot­ed, and in its place the word of truth was sown.

God’s great favorite lived in the city of Myra for many years, ema­nat­ing divine good­ness, as the sacred Scrip­tures say: He was as the morn­ing star amid clouds, and as the moon when full; as the sun shin­ing upon the tem­ple of the most high God, and as lilies by the well­spring of waters, and as pre­cious myrrh that maketh every­thing fra­grant. When he reached old age, the saint paid the com­mon debt due human nature, and after falling ill for a short time, end­ed this tem­po­ral life in a God-pleas­ing man­ner. He joy­ful­ly depart­ed unto eter­nal blessed­ness to the sound of chant­ed psalms; his soul was escort­ed by holy angels and met by the choirs of saints. Bish­ops and cler­ics, monas­tics and laity from through­out the coun­try of Lycia assem­bled on the sixth day of Decem­ber to lay his body to rest in the cathe­dral of Myra. Numer­ous mir­a­cles were worked by Saint Nicholas’ holy relics, which gushed streams of fra­grant, heal­ing myrrh for the ail­ing. Peo­ple began com­ing to his grave from every cor­ner of the earth, hop­ing to be healed. They were not dis­ap­point­ed, for there was no dis­ease the holy myrrh could not cure. The saint con­tin­ued to war against the demons even after his repose, and many times evil spir­its were expelled from pos­sessed folk brought to his sepulcher.

It chanced that God-fear­ing men liv­ing near the mouth of the riv­er Tanais heard of the myrrh-stream­ing and heal­ing relics of Christ’s holy hier­ar­ch Nicholas. They decid­ed to ven­er­ate them, and loaded their ship with wheat. How­ev­er, a demon learned that the ship was being pre­pared to sail to our father’s relics. This was the same unclean spir­it that Nicholas had dri­ven out of its home when he destroyed the tem­ple of Artemis. Still chaf­ing at the saint, the dev­il devised a plan to pre­vent the men from com­plet­ing the jour­ney. Trans­form­ing itself into a woman, the demon appeared to the men, car­ry­ing a jar of oil and say­ing, “I would like to offer this oil at the saint’s grave, but am afraid to trav­el by sea. I am unwell and have a weak stom­ach. Be so kind as to take this for me to Nicholas’ grave and pour it into the lamp over his relics.”

No one knows what demon­ic spells were put on the oil, but it was clear­ly giv­en pow­er to harm the trav­el­ers. The men unwit­ting­ly agreed to do as request­ed and sailed swift­ly the first day. On the morn­ing of the sec­ond day, how­ev­er, a norther­ly wind arose and the boat began to founder. For many days they were in dis­tress because they could not con­tin­ue on course; the churn­ing of the sea brought them to despair, and they final­ly decid­ed to turn back. But after they had turned the ship around, Saint Nicholas appeared in a lit­tle skiff, say­ing, “Where are you head­ed, men? Why have you reversed your course? A wicked spir­it is pre­vent­ing you from com­plet­ing your voy­age. A demon, not a woman, gave you the jar of oil. Cast it into the water and the sea will become calm. Then you will be able to con­tin­ue on your way.”

As the men threw the jar over­board, they saw black smoke and flame belch­ing out of it. A ter­ri­ble stench filled the air, the waters part­ed and began to boil and bub­ble from their depths, and hot spray cov­ered the deck. Every­one in the ship was ter­ri­fied and cried out in fear, but Saint Nicholas enjoined the men to take courage. He calmed the sea and a cool, fra­grant wind began to blow, allow­ing the trav­el­ers to sail joy­ful­ly to their des­ti­na­tion. There they ven­er­at­ed the myrrh-stream­ing relics of their speedy helper and inter­ces­sor, giv­ing thanks to the almighty God. They had a ser­vice of sup­pli­ca­tion chant­ed to our great father Nicholas, after which they returned to their own coun­try, where they told every­one what had happened.

God’s favorite has tru­ly worked numer­ous mighty and glo­ri­ous mir­a­cles upon land and sea, assist­ing those in afflic­tion, sav­ing the drown­ing, free­ing cap­tives and return­ing them to their homes, deliv­er­ing the impris­oned, and res­cu­ing the con­demned. To the blind he has giv­en sight; to the lame, the abil­i­ty to walk; to the deaf, hear­ing; and to the dumb, speech. He has bestowed alms on the poor; giv­en food to the hun­gry; and proven him­self the helper of all in dis­tress of any sort, a fer­vent inter­ces­sor ever ready to defend the oppressed. Even now he assists in the same way those who call upon him, sav­ing them from mis­for­tunes. It is impos­si­ble to enu­mer­ate the mir­a­cles he has worked or to describe them all in detail. This great won­der-work­er is known to East and West alike: the ends of the earth have heard tell of his mar­vels. May God, Who is one in Trin­i­ty, Father, Son, and Holy Spir­it, be glo­ri­fied in him, and may his holy name be extolled by the lips of all men for­ev­er. Amen.

Who­ev­er wish­es to learn more about the great won­ders worked by Christ’s holy hier­ar­ch Nicholas should read the entries in The Pro­logue for this day and for the ninth of May, when the trans­la­tion of the saint’s hon­or­able relics is cel­e­brat­ed. He should also read the sep­a­rate book­let that con­tains accounts of his mir­a­cles. From these he will learn how Basil, the son of Agri­covus, was res­cued from the Sara­cens and returned to his home by the saint in a sin­gle hour; how the priest Christo­pher was saved from behead­ing; how King Stephen of Ser­bia was grant­ed sight; and he will become acquaint­ed with many oth­er won­ders worked by the saint.