The Life of Saint Nicholas the Wonder Worker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia
Nicholas is recognized principally as the Archbishop of Myra,
where he was known for his great kindness and charity. Saint
Nicholas was not only an ardent defender of the poor and needy,
but was equally zealous for the truth and the faith, and was one
of the 318 hierarchs present at the First Ecumenical Council in
Nicaea in AD 325.
He was born
in the city of Patara in Lycia, a large ancient province of Asia
Minor, in which Saint Paul had first planted the faith. As a young
man, Saint Nicholas desired to follow the monastic life. He was
tonsured in the monastery of Sion near Myra, and later became its
abbot. He once made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where he found a
place to withdraw and devote himself to prayer, but later came to
understand that this was not the will of God for him, but rather
that he should return to Lycia.
to his homeland, Saint Nicholas was eventually chosen and ordained
archbishop of Myra, the provincial capital of Lycia, located about
three miles from Patara and from the sea. Myra was an
archiepiscopal see, founded by Saint Nicandros, and was of such
great dignity that in later ages thirty-six suffragan dioceses
headed by bishops were subject to it.
persecution of Diocletian, Saint Nicholas made a glorious
confession of the Christian faith. For this he and was imprisoned
and suffered greatly for the truth.
As a man,
Saint Nicholas was very humble and generous, known for his
abundant mercy to all, his beneficence toward the poor, and his
advocacy for those unjustly accused and imprisoned. As a pious
hierarch, Saint Nicholas was always concerned for the welfare and
the spiritual well-being of his flock. He was known for his deeds
of kindness as well as for working miracles on behalf of those in
summoned by the Emperor Constantine along with the other hierarchs
of the Church, Saint Nicholas attended First Ecumenical Council.
He was a zealous defender of the truth, and found the brazen
blasphemies of the Heretic Arius unbearable. Hearing Arius speak
against the Son of God, Nicholas struck him on the face. The
canons of the Church forbid clergy to strike any man at all, and
his fellow bishops debated what disciplinary action was to be
taken against this widely revered hierarch, concluding that he was
to be stripped of his episcopal rank and sent to prison.
following night, however, our Lord Jesus Christ and His
most-blessed Mother the Theotokos appeared to certain of the
hierarchs, informing them that no action was to be taken against
the Saint, since he had not acted out of passion, but from extreme
love and piety. Christ and His Mother also appeared to Saint
Nicholas in his cell, and presented him with an omophorion and the
book of the Gospels, symbols of the episcopacy. Thus the hierarchs
found Saint Nicholas the following morning, wearing the episcopal
omophorion and reading the Gospel. At once he was set free and
restored to his rightful honor as the archbishop of Myra.
Nicholas fell asleep in the Lord in the year AD 345. His relics
were kept for many years in Myra, and were found to be
myrrh-streaming. These relics were brought to Bari, Italy in AD
1087, where they remain to this day and still flow with fragrant
Nicholas continues to intercede with Christ, our merciful Lord,
for the salvation of those who seek his prayers and powerful
intercession. He is known as the patron of sailors and of
children, and also of the Russian land.
his memory, hoping to follow his good example, and asking him to
pray for the salvation of our souls.