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Saint Nicholas
Bishop of Myra, Defender of Orthodoxy, Wonderworker, Holy Hierarch
Born c. 270 A.D. (the Ides of March)[1], Patara, Lycia, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey)
Died 6 December 347 A.D. Myra, Lycia
Venerated in All Christianity
Canonized Pre-Congregation
Major shrine Basilica di San Nicola, Bari, Italy.
Feast 6 December (main feast day)
19 December (some Eastern churches)
9 May ( of relics)
Attributes Vested as a Bishop. In Eastern Christianity, wearing an omophorion and holding a Gospel Book. Sometimes shown with Jesus Christ over one shoulder, holding a Gospel Book, and with the Theotokos over the other shoulder, holding an omophorion.
Patronage Children, sailors, fishermen, merchants, the falsely accused, repentant thieves, pharmacists, archers, pawnbrokers

Saint Nicholas (Greek: Άγιος Νικόλαος, Agios ["saint"] Nikolaos ["victory of the people"]) (270 - 6 December 346) is the canonical and most popular name for Nicholas of Myra, a saint and Greek[2] Bishop of Myra (Demre, in Lycia, part of modern-day Turkey). Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose English name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as is common for early Christian saints.[3] In 1087, his relics were furtively translated to Bari, in southeastern Italy; for this reason, he is also known as, Nicholas of Bari.

The historical Saint Nicholas is remembered and revered among Catholic and Orthodox Christians. He is also honoured by various Anglican and Lutheran churches. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, and children, and students in Greece, Belgium, Romania, Bulgaria,Georgia, Russia, the Republic of Macedonia, Slovakia, Serbia and Montenegro. He is also the patron saint of Barranquilla, Bari, Amsterdam, Beit Jala, iggiewi, Liverpool and huguenots. In 1809, the New-York Historical Society convened and retroactively named Santa Claus the patron saint of Nieuw Amsterdam, the Dutch name for New York City.[4] He was also a patron of the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine emperors, who protected his relics in Bari.

A nearly identical story is attributed by Greek folklore to Basil of Caesarea. Basil's feast day on 1 January is considered the time of exchanging gifts in Greece.

Life of Saint Nicholas

Nicholas was born of Greek extraction[5][6] in Asia Minor during the third century in the Greek colony[7] of Patara[8] in Lycia (Demre, in Lycia, part of modern-day Turkey), at a time when the region was part of the Roman province of Asia and was Hellenistic in its culture and outlook. He was the only son of wealthy Christian parents named Epiphanus and Johanna[9], and was very religious from an early age. According to legend, Nicholas was said to have rigorously observed the canonical fasts of Wednesdays and Fridays. His wealthy parents died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young and he was raised by his uncle—also named Nicholas—who was the bishop of Patara. He tonsured the young Nicholas as a reader, and later as presbyter (priest). Nicholas also spent a brief period of time at a monastery named Holy Sion, which had been founded by his uncle.


  1. "Book of Martyrs," New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1948
  2. Cunningham, Lawrence (2005). A brief history of saints. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 33. ISBN 1405114029. "The fourth-century Saint Nicholas of Myra (in present-day Turkey) spread to the West through the port city of Bari in southern Italy…Devotion to the saint in the Low countries became blended with Nordic folktales, transforming this early Greek bishop into that Christmas icon, Santa Claus’." 
  3. Charles W. Jones, "Saint Nicholas of Myra, Bari, and Manhattan: Biography of a Legend" (Chicago: University of Chicago Press) 1978.
  4. John Steele Gordon, The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street as a World Power: 1653-2000 (Scribner) 1999.
  5. Burman, Edward (1991). Emperor to emperor: Italy before the Renaissance. Constable. p. 126. ISBN 0094694907. "For although he is the patron saint of Russia, and the model for a northern invention such as Santa Glaus, Nicholas of Myra was a Greek." 
  6. Domenico, Roy Palmer (2002). The regions of Italy: a reference guide to history and culture. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 21. ISBN 0313307334. "Saint Nicholas (Bishop of Myra) replaced Sabino as the patron saint of the city…A Greek what is now Turkey, he lived in the early fourth century." 
  7. Horace ; Mulroy, David D. (1994). Horace's odes and epodes. University of Michigan Press. p. 136. ISBN 0472105310. "Patara: Patara, a Greek colony in Lycia (southern coast of modern Turkey)." 
  8. Lanzi, Gioia (2004). Saints and their symbols: recognizing saints in art and in popular images. Liturgical Press. p. 111. ISBN 0814629709. "Nicholas was born around 270 in Patara on the coast of what is now western Turkey." 
  9. Lanzi, Gioia (2004). Saints and their symbols: recognizing saints in art and in popular images. Liturgical Press. p. 111. ISBN 0814629709. "Nicholas was born around 270 in Patara on the coast of what is now western Turkey; his parents were Epiphanius and Joanna." 
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Saint Nicholas. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.