Friday, December 19, 2008

Nativity -- Day 22

Today is the feast day (Old Calendar) of St. Nicholas. An interesting series of articles about St. Nicholas and Santa Claus can be found here.


This holy bishop lived in the time of Emperors Diocletian and Maximian. After having led the monastic life for a while, he was promoted to the episcopal dignity for his exceptional and eminent virtue. Because he defended the interests of Christians and courageously preached the true religion, he was seized by the city's magistrates and thrown into prison in company with other Christians, after he was overpowered by assaults and inflicted with all kinds of tortures. When the great and pious Constantine took possession of the Roman Empire by a Providential decree, all the prisoners in fetters were released. Thus set at liberty, Saint Nicholas returned to Myra and took part in the Council of Nicaea held sometime after by Emperor Constantine in 325.

He died at a very old age leaving his holy body to the faithful as a source of balm and healing. He remains as if living after his death, having received from heaven the gift of miracles. His relics are preserved in Bari, Italy. His power as a wonderworker gave birth to a marvelous legend which is the origin of traditional children's festivals in the East as well as the West.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, an icon of meekness, and a teacher of temperance; for this cause, thou hast achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty. O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
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.

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