Today, December 6th, is the feast day of Saint Nicholas. You probably know him better as “Santa Claus.”
He was born around the year 270 AD and died around 343 AD. When he was young, both of his parents died, and he used the wealth that his parents had left him to “secretly” help those in need. There are several stories of the wonderful acts of kindness that he did for those in need.
Saint Nicholas would later go on to become the Bishop of Myra (now known as Demre).
One of the main topics that The First Ecumenical Council of Nicea (325) addressed Arianism. This was a heretical teaching by a priest named Arius who wrongly taught that Jesus was not fully divine and was a mere creature like the rest of us. During Arius’ exposition of this belief, Jolly St. Nick had heard all he could of this nonsense, got up and punched Arius in the face.
Emperor Constantine was in attendance at the Council of Nicea and after witnessing St. Nick sucker punch Arius, he and the other Bishops had Nicholas stripped of his office as Bishop of Myra, and confiscated his personal copy of the Gospels (remember books weren’t easy to come by back in the 4th century) and his pallium.
St. Nick’s story doesn’t end there. According to tradition:
“…after Nicholas was deposed, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary visited Nicholas who was being held in a prison cell for his fist-fight with the heretic.
Our Lord Jesus Christ asked Saint Nicholas, “Why are you here?” Nicholas responded, “Because I love you, my Lord and my God.”
Christ then presented Nicholas with his copy of the Gospels. Next, the Blessed Virgin vested Nicholas with his episcopal pallium, thus restoring him to his rank as a bishop.
When the Emperor Constantine heard of this miracle, he immediately ordered that Nicholas be reinstated as a bishop in good standing for the Council of Nicea. Today we recite the Nicene Creed every Sunday so we know how the controversy played out. The bishops at Nicea sided with Saint Nicholas and Saint Athanasius and they condemned Arius as a heretic. To this very day, we still recite in the Creed that Christ is “God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father.””
And I thought I’d just add my favourite Saint Nicholas memes I’ve seen around the interwebs. Enjoy!
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