Saint Nicholas was born around 280 A.D. in Patara, on the south coast of modern day Turkey.His parents died when he was young, leaving their wealth to him.After hearing Jesus' call to the wealthy young man to sell everything he had and give it to the poor, Nicholas vowed to do the same.
He heard of a father, who unable to provide the money for a dowry for his three daughters to marry, was going to sell them into slavery.Nicholas, on three occasions, took a bag of gold coins and under the cover of darkness, threw the money in the window.Legend has it that one bag landed in a stocking drying by the fire.The girls' father, by the third occasion was waiting, and chased Nicholas down the street to thank him.
Nicholas was a bishop of Myra at a time when being a leader in the Christian church meant persecution, punishment, or death. His very participation in the church made him a subversary. Nicholas did spend time in goal with many other Christians. He lived for the poor, oppressed, wrongly accused, and hungry, even campaigning for, and winning lower taxes to ease the burden on the poor.
Nicholas ran through the street to grab the arm of the executioner before three wrongly accused men were executed. He convinced sailors to leave their cargo of grain for the people in a time of famine.
At the first worldwide council of bishops, when confronted by a bishop who was arguing that Jesus was not divine, Nicholas slapped him in the face.He was put in gaol for his action, until miraculous signs convinced the other bishops that Nicholas was right.They released him the next day.
In the 12th century nuns in France, so inspired by Saint Nicholas' compassion and action, filled stockings with oranges and nuts and left them on the door steps of the poor, on December 6th, the day of Saint Nicholas' death.
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