Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra
Saint Nicholas, the Archbishop of Myra in Lykia is one of the most miraculous and beloved saints of the Orthodox Church. Innumerable churches have been built to honour him and crowds hurry to ask through their prayers for his intervention to God.
He was born at Patara, Lykia around 250AD, by pious and wealthy parents who raised him to be a Christian.
Quite soon, he proved that God stood at his side. He was able to stand in the bathtub while his mother was bathing him although no one was helping him. Every Wednesday and Friday, respecting the fast, he would breast-feed only once and always after the sun had set.
It was not long before God called his parents to his side, so Saint Nicholas divided his property to the poor, as the Holy Bible commanded, and devoted himself to the adoration of God.
His love for those in need was well-known and many were the instances when he sacrificed all he had to help his fellow men. A well-known incident is one in which he secretly helped three sisters, in the middle of the night, by offering them a substantial amount of money. In this way he prevented them from committing acts, due to poverty, that would harm their reputation.
A holy longing made him board a ship in order to travel to the Holy Land. While the ship was travelling a terrible storm broke out. The passengers and the crew got desperate and expected their death to arrive, sooner or later.
But Saint Nicholas kneeled down and prayed to God with all his heart, and the miracle happened. The winds stopped and the sea calmed in a moment. However, a sailor that was on the mast slipped and fell on the deck dead. Everyone was sad that a human soul had been lost. However, thanks to our Saint's prayers the sailor resurrected as if he had woken up from a deep sleep.
After returning from the Holy Land, he settled in Patara, where he led a pious, modest life. Yet, God honoured him to be elected to the position of the Archbishop, when the Archbishop of Myron in Lykia had died.
His life was characterised by a deep belief in God and an inexhaustible love for people. That is why he built a hospital, a guest-house, a poorhouse and other charitable institutions in his parish.
In the difficult years of the persecution of Christians by Diocletian, he used to encourage his people vividly. For this reason, he was arrested, put into prison and tortured. Still, he suffered all this for the glory and the love of his Lord, Jesus Christ.
After the persecutions were stopped by the emperor Constantine the Great, he continued his work in Myra.
In 325AD he took part in the 1st Ecumenical Synod in Nicea, Vithinia and fought with strength and courage against all erroneous beliefs of Arius. He defended the Orthodox faith by all means and was called "canon of faith" and "teacher of the Holy Bible". To support him, Jesus Christ Himself appeared to him at that moment with His Mother and presented him the Holy Bible.
When he returned from the Ecumenical Synod, he continued to preach until his late years and handed his spirit to God in 330AD.
God honoured him for his virtues, his inexhaustible faith to the Almighty God and his deep love for humans, with the gift to work miracles. He used to perform miracles when he was alive, but after his death the miracles were much more frequent and healed many.
In 1087 his holy relics were transferred from Myra to Bari, Italy due to riots. During the service performed at that time, holy oil started flowing from his relics, in such great quantities, that the believers put it into containers and pots to cure diseases and illnesses. Many were those who passed out, because of its heavy scent.
Our Church honours him and praises his virtues with hymns. All around East and West, he holds a special place among the other saints. Russia in particular honours him with pomp and circumstance.
Saint Nicholas is the protector of the sailors. His icon is at the bridge of every ship and innumerable churches in harbours, islands and many people bear his name. It is him who sailors call, when there is trouble: Saint Nicholas, help me! They call out and offer him anything precious they might have.
His memory is honoured on 6th of December.
"Translation of the Relics of “Saint Nicholas”
During the reign of Emperor Alexius Commenus and Patriarch Nicholas Grammaticus, the body of this saint was translated from Myra in Lycia to the town of Bari in Italy in 1087 A.D. This occurred because of the assault of the Muslims on Lycia. The Saint appeared in a dream to an honourable priest in Bari and ordered that his relics be translated to this town.
At that time, Bari was Orthodox and under the Orthodox Patriarch. During the translation of the relics of this Saint, many miracles occurred either by touching the relics or from the myrrh (oil), which abundantly flowed from his relics.
Apolytikion of Nicholas the Wonderworker
A model of faith and the image of gentleness, the example of your life has shown you forth to your sheep-fold to be a master of temperance. You obtained thus through being lowly, gifts from on high, and riches through poverty. Nicholas, our father and priest of priests, intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.
Kontakion of Nicholas the Wonderworker
Saintly One, (St. Nicholas) in Myra you proved yourself a priest; for in fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, venerable One, you laid down your life for your people and saved the innocent from death. For this you were sanctified as One learned in divine grace.