Saint Nicholas

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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.

Bibliography

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

References in periodicals archive ?
His body will be removed to St Nicholas of Myra church on Francis Street this evening.
St Nicholas of Myra, the 4th-century Bishop of Lycia in modern-day Turkey, was renowned for his extraordinary generosity and was venerated as a living saint.
He built a dedicated Cistercian Abbey at Jerpoint and in 1200, amid enormous fanfare, St Nicholas of Myra's body arrived at Waterford and was brought to the new Abbey where he was interred.
They believe the body of St Nicholas of Myra - who was the inspiration for Father Christmas - was brought here by the early crusaders and interred at Jerpoint Abbey, Co Kilkenny, in 1200.
But Jonathan was all smiles yesterday as he rejoined his pals at the St Nicholas of Myra parish centre in Francis Street.