Abba Nicholas, Bishop of Myra
Nicholas of Myra

On this day, we commemorate the departure of the righteous Abba Nicholas, Bishop of Myra in Lycia (south western Asia Minor). St. Nicholas is the true personality behind the story of St. Claus or Baba Noel, who leaves presents for children on Christmas Eve.

He was from the city of Mora, his father's name was Epiphanius and the name of his mother was Tona. They were rich, as well as God-fearing people. They had no children to bring joy to their hearts and to inherit their wealth after their death. However, as they grew old, God had compassion on them and gave them this saint. God made him full of divine grace since his childhood. When he reached school age, he demonstrated far more intelligence and knowledge from the Holy Spirit than he did from his teachers. He learned all the doctrine and the teachings of the church from a young age and was ordained a deacon.

He became a monk in the monastery where his cousin was the abbot. Because he lived an ascetic and a righteous life, they made him a priest when he was 19 years old. In an incredible way, God gave him the gift to work signs and to heal the sick.

There was a very rich man in the city of Mora who lost all his wealth. He had three daughters of the age of marriage and could not marry because of their father's poverty. Satan caused the man to think that he should make his daughters live in sin. God revealed to St. Nicholas the thoughts which were in this man's head. St. Nicholas took one hundred Dinars of his father's money and tied it up in a sack, and during the night, he threw the money into the window of the man's house. When the man found the gold, he was astonished and rejoiced exceedingly and was able to give his eldest daughter away in marriage. During another night, the saint threw another one hundred Dinars into the man's house and the man was able to give his second daughter away in marriage.

The man wanted to know who this charitable person was. The third time when the saint threw the gold into the house, the man was watching and immediately when he felt the thud of the sack dropping, he ran out of his house to see who was throwing the gold to him. He found the kind Bishop St. Nicholas, and the man bowed down at his feet, paid him great homage, and thanked him because he saved his daughters from poverty and from a life of sin. The saint refused to accept any thanks and asked them to thank the Lord Who put this thought in his heart.

St. Nicholas cast out evil spirits and he healed many sick people. He used to bless a little amount of bread that would satisfy many people with some left over.

Before being selected bishop, he saw a vision with a great throne and vestments placed on it and a man said to him, "Put on these vestments and sit down on the throne." Another night he saw the Blessed Virgin Mary giving him the vestments of the clergy and the Lord Jesus gave him the Bible.

When the Bishop of Myra was about to die, the angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him that the one who was chosen to this rank was Nicholas and described his virtues to him. When he woke up, he told the bishops what he had seen, and they all believed the vision. They knew that it was from God. They took St. Nicholas and made him bishop over the city of Myra.

Shortly thereafter, Diocletian reigned and the spread of pagan worship increased. He arrested many believers and when he heard about this saint, he seized him and tortured him severely for many years. The Lord Jesus strengthened him, protected him and raised him whole from these tortures so that he might become a mighty branch of the tree of faith When Diocletian was tired of torturing him, he cast him into prison. Saint Nicholas wrote to his congregation from prison to teach, encourage and confirm them in the faith.

Then the righteous Constantine became an Emperor and he released all the confessors from prison, among them was St. Nicholas who returned to his chair.

He was one of the three hundred and eighteen bishops assembled in the first Christian Ecumenical Council in the City of Nicaea, he had rebuked Arius and cast him out.

Having finished his course and guarded his flock, he departed to be with God. He sat on the Episcopal throne for more than forty years. He was about 80 years old.

Glory be to God forever and ever. Amen.