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The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus by Adam C. English is a hagiography of Saint Nicholas of Myra, a Byzantine Saint who lived through the Christian persecutions, and the reign of Emperor Constantine, a Christian ruler who mandated Christianity to be the state religion of the Roman Empire. He is also said to have been in attendance during the first Catholic conferences at Nicea, wherein the tenants of the faith were solidified, and where the Nicene Creed was established (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 B.C.). It may come as a surprise to many that the Jolly Old Elf of Coca-Cola commercial fame, was actually a staunch defender of justice, and had no fear of the occasional brawl with fellow Bishops when there was a theological disagreement.
The biography covers the many myths and the best available histories of this beloved Saint. Saint Nicholas is known throughout the world by many names, and is beloved for many reasons. He is not just the benefactor of children, or the merry old elf of Christmas tales but is the patron of mariners, soldiers, knights, dock workers, seminarians, brewers, and lawyers, just to name a few.
Saint Nicholas of Myra Saves Three Innocents from Death
by Ilya Repin
The Legend of Saint Nicholas
by Ambrogio Lorenzetti
Adam English writes that the legends surrounding Santa Claus may well stem from the confusion between two Saints with the same names, living in close proximity to each other, and almost in the same historical time frames: Nicholas of Myra and Nicholas of Sion.
Nicholas of Myra is said to have rescued three young maidens from being sold into a brothel by their father, because he was poor and could not afford them dowries. On three separate occasions, Nicholas went to the man’s home in the dead of night, and three bags of coins were dropped, thrown and hurled through an window, down a chimney, and lastly, landing in a sock placed on the mantle to dry. On the third time, the man was waiting, and to his surprise found their secret benefactor to be none other than their Bishop.
Another occasion Nicholas is said to have interceded for three young soldiers, “innocents” as they were called, which lead to other myths of three young murdered children being miraculously resurrected.
Nicholas lived through the transition from a pagan society to a Christian one. He is said to have personally toppled the great local shrine to the deity Artemis (Diana) that had held sway in the minds of local popular superstition for centuries.
When Nicholas’ body was laid to rest in Myra, it exuded the most fragrant odor of sanctity that could be smelled for miles, even across the ocean. Every year monks would open tomb to collect the “myrrh” of Saint Nicholas, said to heal all manner of illness. In 1087, the shrine was in danger of desecration by Seljuk Turks. A company of seafaring Barian Venetians, entered the shrine, broke open the reliquary, and bore off the bones of the beloved Saint to their home town of Bari, where it remains today.
Nicholas comes down to us as Santa Claus, Saint Nick, Father Christmas, and a wealth of other affectionate names. He is the first Saint to achieve such merit. His is a worldwide fame engendering the great charity of the Christmas Season. He single-handedly created the mold for Christmas cheer, charity, and gift giving. It is also a model for the world to hold such charity in our hearts for all other seasons of the year.