It’s the feast of good old St Nick today-patron saint of children, sailers and so much more. All homeschooling parent’s need to know about the St Nicholas Center. It is a thorough site covering stories, legends, activities and just about anything you ever wanted to know about St Nicholas and how he became Santa Claus/Fr. Christmas.
We will print up a couple of the activity sheets for the little ones today and I also liked this idea.
Buy those chocolate Santa’s ad add the mitre and crook and hey-presto you have a more authentic Santa!
We won’t be buying them-but we will make some chocolate coins for the little ones this afternoon.
The Story of St Nicholas
Nicholas was born in Myrna in modern day Turkey to wealthy parents. He was baptised and brought up in the Faith surrounded by his pagan neighbours. It is interesting to wonder what learning Nicholas would have had in the faith at that time. The Church had already been racked-particularly in the East with various heresies and She had faced these while at the same time suffering a huge amount of persecution from nearly all the Emperors of Rome since Nero. There was no canon of Scripture so it is likely that Nicholas would have studied the Septuagint (the main Old Testament source) as well as the Gospels, (Mathew, Mark, Luke, John) and some of the letters of St Paul. He may have read the Shepherd of Hermes and had doubts about the Revelation of St John. It would not be until the year of the saint’s death in 349 AD that the canon of the Bible was set.
When he was sixteen a terrible fever came to the city and many people died including his parents. Nicholas found himself the heir to a large estate at a very early age.
Nicholas used his position and wealth to help the poor in his city and soon felt called to live as a hermit. From there he was ordained a priest. He was still very young and wanted more than anything to live the quiet contemplative life of a hermit-but God had another idea.
The bishop of Myra died and As the bishops gathered to elect another man for the role God spoke to one of them in a dream saying that whomsoever should be first to enter the Church in the morning should be the one elected bishop.
Nicholas was in the habit of getting up at dawn and going to church, so he was the first to enter. There was some consternation among the bishops that they should choose a man so young, but Nicholas had already gained the love and respect of the people of Myra and they were overjoyed to have him as their new bishop.
One of the most famous acts of kindness from Bishop Nicholas was the case of the poor man with three daughters. The father of these girls was finding it difficult to feed his family and had no money put away to ensure his daughter’s dowry’s so they could marry. Finding his situation desperate the man decided he must sell his daughters. This was fairly common practice in those days (and is a practice that remains today in some places). The future for these girls was bleak indeed as they faced slavery and worse as their future.
News of the plight of this family reached Nicholas and he set out at night coming close to the man’s house. There his daughters had washed their stockings and hung them out of the window to dry. It was, as far as they knew, their last night of freedom. Nicholas dropped a bag of gold coins into the stocking of each daughter.
As it happened he was seen and news of his kindly deed spread throughout the city. The father and girls were extremely grateful.
Another time Nicholas saved some sailers from a terrible storm, he saved babies and children from cruelty and murder. He was famous for his help of his city during a time of famine. The people were starving and had run out of grain. A ship came into the harbour, bound for Constantinople and packed with grain. The people begged the captain to let them have some sacks of grain, but he refused explaining he was sorry for them but the grain was weighed and he would be arrested if any of it was missing at it’s final destination.
Then Nicholas promised that if the Captain allowed some of the sacks to remain in Myrna that God would see to it that all would be well for him. Believing the words of this holy man the Captain allowed some sacks of grain to be left at Myrna.
When he arrived with the rest of his shipment in Constantinople it was duly weighed-and not an ounce was missing. Meanwhile the people of Myna ate well that year and had enough grain for planting the harvest for the next year.
Then Diocletian and Galerian became emperors of Rome. Galerian in particular hated the Church and persecuted Her cruelly. Soon he had persuaded Diocletian to do the same. Priests, Deacons, Bishops and many lay people were arrested and the prisons were so packed there was no room for murderers and thieves. Many saints were made at that time among them St George.
Nicholas was arrested and spent the next ten years in prison. He was often threatened with death but it seems those in authority were afraid to actually kill him because even the pagans loved him and recognised him as a holy man. So they left him to die in prison.
At last both Galerian and Diocletian were killed and Constantine became Emperor. He too was a pagan, but he had received a vision through which he had conquered his enemies. The vision was either the cross or the Chi Rho-accounts vary. This event did not convert Constantine but his mother St Helen was Christian by this point and she probably influenced her son as he promulgated the Edict of Milan in 313 AD.
At last the Church was out from under the shadow of persecution and Nicholas was freed from prison. He returned home to Myra and continued as Bishop there.
But in Alexandria in Egypt a bishop called Arius had decided he had a better idea about God and the Incarnation than the Tradition faith and began to deny the true Divinity of Christ, saying He was the first created being and other things that were theologically odd-ball. Things got unpleasant pretty quickly and Constantine asked the pope to get it sorted.
In 325AD the bishops were called to Council and Nicholas packed his bag and set off to join his brother bishops in Nicaea. Constantine attended at least some of the council. There is no evidence that St Helen did but it would be nice to think she was there.
The Pope Sylvester I was too old to go so sent Hosius and another priest to speak for him.
One of the legends of St Nicholas attests that he got so angry at the arrogant pontificating of Arius that he got up and punched him, and spent a night in prison stripped of his priestly robes. Christ and Our Lady apparently returned his robes to him so he was fully vestmented when he was released the next morning-much to the surprise of those there.
The Council put together the Creed -the one we still say to this day-but sadly even as the bishops returned home Arius refused to be silenced even by the Church and St Jerome comments that after the Council the people awoke and groaned to find themselves Arian. It is interesting to note that while so many bishops turned to Arius, that it was the people who remained orthodox and supported St Athanasius who stood most strongly for the Truth.
Nicholas remained a good bishop and eventually died on Dec 6th 343AD. He was acclaimed a saint pretty quickly, especially as miracles happened almost immediately upon his death, including his body exuding ‘manna’.
A lovely day
After telling the children the story of St Nick and letting them colour in pictures we set off for Mass. Bob, our neighbour was walking by and asked where we were going. I told him we were going to Mass to celebrate St Nicholas Day. He then asked Ronan who St Nicholas was. Now bare in mind this was the main homeschool topic of the morning; Ronan said “I don’t know.”
When I prompted him that St Nicholas was Fr Christmas he said ‘Yes’ in that- of course, but I thought you knew that-voice. Sigh.
After Mass Josh took the smalls home and Iona and I went to get some bits’n’pieces.
We made St Nick chocolate coins this afternoon and the children had them after tea.
Iona had her Maths lesson and is doing remarkably well. Nigel, her tutor tells me she’s flying through the GCSE Higher Maths book-should be able to sit the IGCSE in the Summer-2yrs early.
Heleyna wants me-will post this now