Posted: September 28th, 2013

An Icon of Meekness

By, Fr. Mark Sietsema
Some things you should know about Saint Nicholas, whose Deisis icon has been newly installed in our apse.


Last month we introduced St. Athanasius, whose Deisis icon is one of the two new medallions in our “apse.”  This month we give equal space to a holy man who truly needs no introduction, Saint Nicholas.  Here are some things you should know:

 

Fast Facts

 

·        He was born in A.D. 270 in Patara of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) of Greek parentage.

·        His name means “the victory of the people.”

·        He was born into a wealthy Christian family, but his parents died in an epidemic when he was young and so he was raised by his uncle Nicholas.

·        His uncle was the bishop of Patara, and he raised his nephew in the life of the Church, tonsuring him a reader and later ordaining him a priest at age 19.

·        He was ordained the bishop of Myra in Lycia (modern Turkey) while in his 20s.

·        He rose to leadership when the Roman emperor was Diocletian, one of the fiercest persecutors of Christianity.

·        He was arrested, imprisoned for many years, and underwent torture for his faith.

·        He returned to his episcopal duties upon his release with the victory of Saint Constantine and the end of persecutions.

·        He is reputed to have been in attendance at the 1st Ecumenical Council in Nicea, convoked by St. Constantine in A.D. 325. 

·        He was an ally of Saint Athanasios at the Council in opposing the teachings of Arius, the priest from Egypt who said that Christ was a lesser divinity than the Father.

·        He was a stern (not so jolly!) man and his years of starvation in prison left him gaunt (not rotund!).

·        He was allegedly imprisoned again briefly during the Council for physically assaulting Arius.

·        He was renowned for his acts of kindness towards parishioners, though he himself sought to do his good deeds in secret.

·        He lived to be in his 60s or 70s and after death was buried in Myra; but with the advance of Islam, his bones were moved to Bari, Italy for safety in A.D. 1087.

·        His relics are one of the most complete skeletons of any saint.

·        His skull was so intact that scientists were able to make a forensic facial reconstruction, which you can view at http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/real-face/.

·        His nose was badly broken, probably from his time in prison. 

·        His reputation for asceticism grew over the centuries, and a legend developed that as an infant, he refused his mother’s breast on Wednesdays and Fridays because he had an innate sense of the schedule of fast days!

·        His reputation for asceticism grew over the centuries, and a legend developed that as an infant, he refused his mother’s breast on Wednesdays and Fridays because he had an innate sense of the schedule of fast days!

·        He has 3(!) feast-days in the Orthodox Church: December 6, the date of his death; July 29, the date of his birth; and May 9, the date when his relics were moved to Bari.

·        He is claimed as the heavenly intercessor by many different people, and above all as the patron of children and sailors.

·        His hymn has been adapted for other hierarch saints, but it words apply first of all to Saint Nicholas:

 

A standard of faith and an icon of meekness, a teacher of self-restraint were you shown to be to your flock by the truth of your deeds; for this reason you acquired through lowliness the highest things of all, and through your poverty riches; Father hierarch Nicholas, intercede with Christ our God, that our souls be saved.

 

Amen!

 




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