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Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
Grand Junction, Colorado

Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (AD 73)
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (AD 1922)
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver (AD 1979)

METROPOLIS OF DENVER

The Life of Saint Nicholas the Wonder Worker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia

Saint 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.

Returning 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.

During the 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 need.

Being 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.

During the 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.

Saint 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 myrrh.

Saint 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.

We venerate his memory, hoping to follow his good example, and asking him to pray for the salvation of our souls.

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Email: fr.luke@denver.goarch.org
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