Dec. 6, Saint Nicholas, Bishop and Confessor
Nicholas was a most holy bishop of Myra in Asia Minor, who died about the year 352, and was there buried, and thence onwards held in highest veneration. Histories agree that he suffered imprisonment for the Faith, and made a glorious confession thereof in the latter part of Diocletian’s persecution, and that he was one of the conciliar fathers at Nicea. But the extraordinary devotion to him from the earliest days, which hath but increased with time, in the West as well as in the East, would seem to be the fruit of his saintliness and his consequent glory with God. * In the West he is reverenced as the patron of children, because of his miracles wrought to protect their innocence, and because of the prodigies of his own precocious devotion ; whereof it is related that as an infant he kept the fasts prescribed for adults, and hence never suckled more than once on Wednesdays and Fridays, and that always after sunset, according to the Canon Law of that day. Exemplifying his great charity is his secret aid to a certain poor man with three marriageable daughters, who for want of a dowry were in danger of being forced into harlotry ; he went to their house by night, and threw in a window ( some tellings make it the chimney) money sufficient for a dowry ; and this he did a second and third time, so that by his charity all three were honorably given in marriage. * In the East he is reverenced as the patron of sailors because, at their behest, he stilled a great tempest by his prayers whilst journeying by ship on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land ; so that the eastern greeting to seafarers is : May Saint Nicholas hold the tiller. Also, on his return from this pilgrimage, he came to Myra when the bishops of the province were deliberating as to the choice of a bishop for that See ; and they were warned to choose the first man that next crossed the threshold of the church, which same was Nicholas, who entered therein to make his devotions. By the Russians he is accounted with Saint Andrew the joint Patron of their nation. In addition to this, he is reckoned as the Patron also of Greece, Apulia, Sicily, and Lorraine. In 1034 his great shrine at Myra passed into the hands of the Saracens, whereat the merchants of Venice and Bari tried to outbid each other for the ransom of his relicks, and in 1087 the latter were permitted to carry them to Bari in Apulia, where they are still venerated by pilgrims from all over the world.
O God, who didst adorn thy blessed Bishop Saint Nicholas, with power to work many and great miracles, grant, we beseech thee that by his prayers and merits we may be delivered from the fires of everlasting torment, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.