Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Who Was The Real St. Nicholas?

Who is the St. Nicholas who become our Santa Claus?

(Above—An 1898 painting called St. Nicholas of Myra Saves Three Innocents From Death. Painted by a Russian named Ilya Repin.

St. Nicholas was a fourth-century Bishop of Myra. Myra was then in Greece. It is now in Turkey.

Not much is known of the life of St. Nicholas. He is said to have been generous to children and to the poor. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children. Here is a link to a list of Saints.

St. Nicholas is said to have been born into a prosperous home. His parents died when he was a young man and he was left an inheritance. Nicholas used this inheritance to help a poor man support three daughters who otherwise would have been sold into prostitution to support the family home.

It was this gift giving that is the connection between the St. Nicholas of old and the Santa of the modern day. In the spirit of the gifts for the three children, people in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands began to give each other gifts at Christmas. Santa Claus is, after a few mutations, St. Nicholas.

It is said Nicholas brought back to life two or three boys who had been cut-up and tossed in a brine-tub by an innkeeper. The innkeeper was going to sell the boys as pickled pork.

It is claimed that God his or herself indicated to the people of Myra that Nicholas should be selected as Bishop.

Nicholas was renowned as a champion of the falsely accused. He saved the lives of three men who were going to be put to death based on a sentence that had been made on this basis of a bribe. That account is the basis of the picture above.

Many falsely accused people are put to death and placed in jail in the United States in the current day. Please click here to read about The Innocence Project.

Nicholas is the patron saint of prisoners and prostitutes. All people merit concern. Here is a list of the many groups that can claim Nicholas as patron saint.

St. Nicholas is said to have stopped a raging storm in Greece and in so doing saved the lives of many mariners. In Greece, he is the patron saint of sailors.

Santa is about more than gift giving.  I don’t think St. Nicholas would have lined up at Best Buy at 5 AM the morning after Thanksgiving to get a bargain on a laptop.

Here is a brief account of St. Nicholas from AmericanCatholic.org.  

One source for this post was The Oxford Companion To The Year—An Exploration Of Calender Customs And Time-Reckoning. It’s a great book.

(Below–A statue of. St. Nick in Myra, Turkey. Photo by Lindi44.) 

December 8, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,


  1. It was nice of him to bring those chopped up kids back to life, more people should do that.

    Comment by citizenx | December 11, 2012

  2. Yes. Though it would also be good if we would stop chopping people up as well.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | December 12, 2012

  3. […] at Texas Liberal wrote about the real St. Nicholas. He might have had a hard time in Texas as he was against the death […]

    Pingback by The Texas Progressive Alliance December 17, 2012 « TruthHugger | December 17, 2012

  4. Just one more example of how good intentions turn to greed in the end. I had a family in my parish that gave each child ONE gift. They bought gifts for the children without gifts and on Christmas morning they and their children delivered them. I went one year and the joy it brought giver and receiver was amazing. I had some in my parish who thought they were horrible parents for doing what they did. There children were the ones that could not open presents fast enough and cast them aside quick enough to open the next present. I think the big gift giving parents that attempted to buy love and respect from their children were the bad parents.

    Comment by Fr. Thomas J. Martin | December 20, 2012

  5. Fr. Martin–That is very good point that you are more likely to recall one special gift rather than a bunch of stuff that you move on from before the wrapping paper is thrown away.

    Thank you so much for the 4 thoughtful comments you left on this blog today. Have a Merry Christmas.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | December 21, 2012

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