St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra.

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On December 6, we celebrate St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the fourth-century archbishop of Myra in Lycia (on the southern coast of modern-day Turkey). None of his writings is extant, but his examples of Christian generosity, virtue and love endure to this day. St. Nicholas is the living embodiment of the words “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). He is also the patron and protector of two cathedrals – Brooklyn and Los Angeles – in our Archdiocese.

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Saint Nicholas lived during the reign of Saint Constantine the Great, and reposed in 330, As a young man, he desired to espouse the solitary life. He made a pilgrimage to the holy city Jerusalem, where he found a place to withdraw to devote himself to prayer.

It was made known to him, however, that this was not the will of God for him, but that he should return to his homeland to be a cause of salvation for many. He returned to Myra, and was ordained bishop. He became known for his abundant mercy, providing for the poor and needy, and delivering those who had been unjustly accused. No less was he known for his zeal for the truth.

He was present at the First Ecumenical Council of the 318 Fathers at Nicaea in 325; upon hearing the blasphemies that Arius brazenly uttered against the Son of God, Saint Nicholas struck him on the face.

Since the canons of the Church forbid the clergy to strike any man at all, his fellow bishops were in perplexity what disciplinary action was to be taken against this hierarch whom all revered.

In the night our Lord Jesus Christ, and our Lady Theotokos the Mother of God, appeared to certain of the bishops, informing them that no action was to be taken against him, since he had acted not out of passion, but out of extreme love and piety. The Dismissal Hymn for holy hierarchs, The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock … was written originally for Saint Nicholas.

He is the patron of all travellers, and of sea-farers in particular; he is one of the best known and best loved Saints of all time.

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The truth of things revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, a model of meekness, and a teacher of temperance. Therefore thou hast won the heights by humility, riches by poverty. Holy Father Nicholas, intercede with Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

+Troparion, Tone 4

Thou wast a faithful minister of God in Myra, O Saint Nicholas. For having fulfilled the Gospel of Christ, thou didst die for the people and save the innocent. Therefore thou wast sanctified as a great initiator of the grace of God.

+Kontakion, Tone 3