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Saint Nicholas

Bishop and Confessor

Of Nicholas, little is now certainly known except that he 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. However, the Greek histories of his life all 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 Nicaea. 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, and the extraordinary stories which have grown out of affection for him, as a result of this devotion, would seem to be a witness to his extraordinary holiness, and his consequent glory with God.

In the West he is reverenced as the patron of children, because of his concern, as shewn by his reputed miracles, to protect their innocence and because of the reputed 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. In exemplification of his great charity, it is also related that he secretly helped a certain poor man with three marriageable daughters, who for want of a dowry were in danger of being forced into harlotry; for it is said that he went to their house by night, and threw in a window money sufficient for a dowry; and this he did a second and a third time, so that by his charity all three were honourably given in marriage.

In the East he is reverenced as the patron of sailors because he is said, at their behest, to have 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. It is also related that, 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 that they were warned from heaven to choose the first man that 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, who with thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc., New York, 1955, pages 1034-1035

Additional Information:

For additional readings, or to learn more about the Anglican Breviary, visit The Anglican Breviary Website.

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