Since we are only ten days from Christmas, I thought it appropriate to make Saint Nicholas my VIP for this week. The man known as Saint Nicholas was born on March 15, 270, and died on December 6, 343, in Asia Minor (modern-day Demre, Turkey). He was born in the Roman Empire, the only son of wealthy Greek parents. His “parents died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young and he was raised by his uncle – also named Nicholas – who was the bishop of Patara.” The uncle also ordained young Nicholas a priest.
Some priests apparently went to the Holy Land in AD 305 to establish a small monastery. “These monks lived on the mountain overlooking Bethlehem in a few caves. In the years 312-315, St. Nicholas lived there and came as a pilgrim to visit the Holy Sepulchre, Golgotha, Bethlehem, and many other sites in the Holy Land. The Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church is located on the site of his cave in Beit Jala where today there are innumerable stories about Nicholas still handed down from generation to generation. A text written in his own hand is still in the care of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. It was in his prayers that St. Nicholas heard the Holy Spirit call him back to Asis Minor, to Myra, where soon after his return in 317 he was consecrated bishop.
“In 325, he was one of many bishops to answer the request of Constantine and appear at the First Council of Nicaea. There, Nicholas was a staunch anti-Arian, defender of the Orthodox Christian position, and one of the bishops who signed the Nicene Creed….”
Saint Nicholas is “commemorated and revered among Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, and Orthodox Christians. In addition, some Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Reformed churches have been named in honor of Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students in various cities and countries around Europe.”
I recently read a new novel entitle The Immortal Nicholas by Glenn Beck. Beck apparently told the story to his little children as a way to connect the generosity of Santa Claus to the Savior of the world, even Jesus Christ. He fleshed out the story and published it this year. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and highly recommend it.
The book is basically the story of Agios, a poor man who lost his wife and newborn child and later lost his only surviving child, a son. He is heart-broken and tries to drown his sorrows in alcohol. He is rescued by a nice man and ends up accompanying the three wise men – sometimes known as Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar – to Bethlehem, all the time following a “new star” in the heavens. The story continues with Agios secretly guarding the Christ Child until He returns to Galilee. Agios becomes a believer when he meets the adult Jesus just before the crucifixion. Agios later meets the young boy Nicholas who becomes priest after the death of his parents. Agios and Nicholas both have read coats and go about doing good and leaving gifts. Somehow Agios becomes immortal and carries on the work after the death of Nicholas.
A longer review of the book can be found at this site.