The St Nicholas Fair - Saturday 8th December 2012
About St Nicholas
For centuries St.Nicholas has been acknowledged as the patron saint of children, but who was St Nicholas and why is he the patron saint of children?
He was born of Greek parents in Asia Minor in the year AD270 and eventually settled in Myra. In time he became the bishop of the city and died on 6th December AD343.
Throughout his life he had a reputation of generosity and for the secret giving of gifts.
The historical St Nicholas is remembered and revered by Christians and he is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, children, and students in various countries.
Over the centuries many legends have developed over the combination of the themes of generosity and children which are associated with St Nicholas.
One tells of tells how a terrible famine struck the region and a malicious butcher lured three little children into his house, where he killed and butchered them, placing their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them off as ham. St Nicholas came to the area to care for the hungry and inspired by God he resurrected the three boys from the barrel by his prayers.
Perhaps the most famous story tells of a poor man who had three daughters but could not afford a proper dowry for them.
This meant that they would remain unmarried and probably, in the absence of any other possible work would have to take on undesirable employment. Hearing of the poor man's plight, Nicholas decided to help him, but being too modest to help the man in public (or to save the man the humiliation of accepting charity), he went to his house under the cover of night, threw three purses(one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through an open window of the man's house.
(The origin of the three golden balls once the symbol for a pawn- broker’s shop)
Another version of the story has him throwing one purse on three consecutive nights through an open window. The third time this happens the father lies in wait, in order to discover the identity of their benefactor. When he discovers who it is the father confronts the saint, only to have St Nicholas say it is not him he should thank, but God alone.
In a variant on this story, Nicholas learns of the poor man's plan and drops the third bag down the chimney instead. One of the daughters had washed her stockings that evening and hung them over the embers to dry, and the bag of gold fell into the hanging stocking.
Whatever the truth of these stories the core teaching remains the same, that we all have been given gifts by God and we are called to share these in gratitude and love with those who we love and those who need our love as expressed in generous giving.