Saint Nicholas

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Related to Nicholas of Myra: Sankt Nikolaus, St. Nicholas of Myra

Nicholas, Saint,

patron of children and sailors, of Greece, Sicily, and Russia, and of many other places and persons. Little is known of him, but he is traditionally identified as a 4th-century bishop of Myra in Asia Minor. His relics were stolen from Myra in the Middle Ages and taken to Bari, Italy. St. Nicholas is the subject of many legends. He is credited with restoring to life three boys who had been chopped up and pickled in salt by a butcher. Another famous story concerns his giving three bags of gold to the daughters of a poor man and thus saving them from lives of prostitution. Later tradition transformed the bags into three gold balls, which became the symbol of pawnbrokers. In the Netherlands and elsewhere St. Nicholas's feast (Dec. 6) is a children's holiday, appropriate for gifts. The English in colonial New York adopted from the Dutch the now unrecognizable saint, calling him Santa Claus (a contraction of the Dutch Sint Nikolaas). They moved his feast day to the English gift holiday, Christmas. The career and qualities attributed to Santa Claus are all recently acquired.


See biography by C. W. Jones (1978, repr. 1988).

References in periodicals archive ?
St Nicholas of Myra was the 4th-century Bishop of Lycia in modern-day Turkey.
You know, the mythical figure based on Nicholas of Myra, a man of considerable inherited wealth who gave money to the needy.
7) Saint Nicholas is the common name for Saint Nicholas of Myra, who had a reputation for secret gift-giving, but is now commonly known as Santa Claus.
Benedict flew by helicopter to the Adriatic port of Bari, considered a 'bridge' between East and West that is home to the relics of St Nicholas of Myra, a 4th-century saint who is one of the most popular in both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.