Eucharistic Crusade

ST.  NICHOLAS OF BARI {280 - 342}


St. Nicholas is the Patron Saint of sailors, children, travelers, unmarried girls, bakers, weavers and many more!  He is also the Patron of many countries; Greece, Russia, Belgium, Germany, France, Austria and the Netherlands.

Nicholas was born around the year 280, in Patara, Turkey, (Asia) of good Catholic parents.  After his birth, when he was given a bath, he suddenly stood up in the water and raised his hands to Heaven!  Even as a baby he did penance, taking milk from his mother's breast only on Wednesdays and Fridays.

From the age of five, Nicholas spent much of his time in church and studied about the Bible and the Catholic Faith.  His parents were very generous and often gave food and clothing to the poor.  As a boy, Nicholas also went on these trips and once a woman with a crippled hand came up to him and asked him to touch her hand.  He did so, and suddenly the woman was cured!

Nicholas's parents died of the plague when he was fifteen, leaving him with a large amount of money.  His priest-uncle, the Archbishop of Myra, was Abbott of a monastery.  The young boy decided to join this monastery, but before going there, Nicholas gave away his parent's money.

At this time there was a very poor man who had no money to give to his daughters for their weddings.  The father then decided to give his daughters up to a life of sin so that they could make money for themselves.  But when St. Nicholas heard of this wicked sin, he ran to the man's house at night and tossed a small bag of gold through the open window.  The father joyfully thanked God and before long his oldest daughter got married.

Soon after, Nicholas threw another bag of gold through the man's open window for the second daughter!  But when Nicholas tossed a larger bag of gold through the open window a third time, it made a loud clump on the floor and woke the poor man up!  Nicholas ran like ten bears and the man ran after him.  He caught up to Nicholas, threw himself on the ground, and kissed the saint's feet saying, "Nicholas why do you hide yourself from me?  You are my helper and have delivered my soul and my daughter's souls from Hell!"  Then Nicholas pleaded, "Promise me that you will keep these things a secret until after I am dead!"

Nicholas studied well and in time the Archbishop of Myra ordained him a priest and appointed him Abbot of a monastery.  Some time later Nicholas made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where Jesus and Mary had lived. After spending a few months there, he took a ship back to the monastery, but on his return, a terrible storm arose at sea and the ship was driven off course.  The holy priest landed at Myra, Turkey and went in search of a church.

Meanwhile, the former Bishop of Myra had died.  The day before Nicholas arrived; the Bishops of that area were meeting to elect a new Bishop.  A holy Bishop begged them all to fast and pray and that night he had a dream.  In his dream, an Angel commanded him: "Place yourself at the doors of the church in the morning.  The first man you will see is called Nicholas; consecrate him as Bishop!"  In the morning, the holy Bishop told the other Bishops about the dream and waited at the church door.  When a man appeared, the Bishop asked, "What is your name young man?"  The saint humbly bowed his head and answered, "Nicholas, the servant of your holiness!"  Then all the Bishops led him into the church where he was consecrated, Bishop of Myra!

One day some sailors were in a terrible storm at sea and cried out, "Nicholas, servant of God, if what we have heard about you is true, let us see your help now!"  Suddenly Nicholas appeared to them saying, "You called me, here I am!"  Then he began to help the sailors with the ropes and sails, and during this time the storm died down.  Later the sailors went to thank Bishop Nicholas, but he told them, "Thank God, for it was because of His Divine Mercy and your faith that you have been saved!"

St. Nicholas lived during the reign of Diocletian; who hated Catholics and persecuted them!  Bishop Nicholas went around preaching about the Catholic Faith, but before long the saint was arrested, tortured, chained and thrown into prison, along with many other Christians!  Five years later, when Constantine (the son of St. Helena), became Emperor of the Roman Empire, he released all the Christians from prison and Bishop Nicholas returned to Myra.

One year when there was a terrible famine in the province, Nicholas found out that there were several ships loaded with wheat in the harbour.  He hurried over and begged the sailors to give the starving people some grain from each ship but the sailors replied, "Father, we dare not because our cargo was measured at Alexandria and we must deliver all of it to the Emperor Constantine!"  St. Nicholas answered, "Do what I tell you, and upon your return, the Emperor's Officers will not find the cargo short!"  The men shared the wheat and later they found that there was no shortage of grain!

Some people worshiped the false goddess, "Diana", near a tree which had been dedicated to her, but St. Nicholas had the tree cut down! The Devil was furious!  Disguising himself like a nun, he edged near a ship of former pagans who were going to visit Bishop Nicholas, and cried out, "I wanted to come with you to visit the holy man of God, but I cannot.  Here is some oil which I ask you to offer at the church of Bishop Nicholas and please paint the walls of the church in memory of me!" Then he disappeared!   Suddenly another ship arrived and Bishop Nicholas who was on this ship cried out, "What did that woman say to you and what did she give to you?" 

When the pilgrims told St. Nicholas what had just taken place, he cried out, "That was the shameless Diana herself!  If you want proof of it, throw the oil onto the sea and watch what happens!"  They threw the oil onto the sea, and suddenly it became a mass of flames, which burned for many hours.  When the travelers arrived at the Church of Bishop Nicholas, they said, "Truly you are the one who appeared to us at sea and delivered us from the power of the devil!"

A tribe rose up against the Roman Empire and Emperor Constantine sent three Princes with an army, to straighten out these people.  But a powerful wind forced them to land in Myra, and Nicholas invited them to his house.

Meanwhile, a Roman Officer who had been bribed had ordered three innocent soldiers to be killed.  As soon as St. Nicholas heard about the offence, taking his guests with him, he hurried to the place of execution. He stopped the executioner and led the three men away.  Then, rushing to the Officer's headquarters, he forced the locked door open, shouting, "You are an enemy of God.  You have committed a very great crime by condemning three innocent men to death!"  The Princes pleaded for the Officer and Nicholas forgave him because he was sorry for his sin.

The Princes continued their journey, punished the rebels and returned home.  After they arrived, Constantine received them with great honour.  One court member became very jealous and bribed a Roman Officer to put the three Princes in prison and have them killed!  The Princes were terrified! Suddenly Prince Nepotian remembered how Nicholas had saved the three innocent soldiers, so he encouraged the other Princes to beg Bishop Nicholas to help them.

That night, Bishop Nicholas appeared to Emperor Constantine in a dream saying, "Why did you have these three innocent Princes condemned to death?  Hurry and set them free at once or I shall ask God to stir up a war which you will lose; and you will be fed to the beasts!"  When Constantine asked who he was, the man replied, "I am Nicholas, Bishop of Myra!"  The Officer who had a similar dream, told the Emperor and they hurried to the prison.  The Princes told the Emperor about the miracles of Bishop Nicholas and he released them from prison.  A few days later, the Princes visited Bishop Nicholas, "Truly you are a servant of God.  Truly you love and worship Christ!"  They told Nicholas about the dreams and after thanking God he instructed the Princes in the Catholic Faith, and sent them back home.

Mohamed (a false prophet) wanted to make St. Nicholas leave Turkey, because he was spreading the Catholic Faith.  With the devil's help, Mohamed showed Nicholas false miracles: he had a banquet with invisible servants, and made water come from a stone for his followers.  But when good St. Nicholas prayed to God: a desert changed into a beautiful garden; where Angels served food!  He prayed again and it rained for three days and three nights!    In the end when Mohamed clapped his hands and made devils appear out of nowhere, St. Nicholas struck the earth with his staff: thunder rolled, a great earthquake levelled the mountains and stones rained from the sky!  Mohamed was too stubborn to become a Catholic and he was so terrified that he fled from that place and stayed away for 25 years!

One day, as St. Bonaventure relates, St. Nicholas was on his way to the Council of Nicea, when he stopped at an inn.  There was a great famine in the land and even though no meat could be found, the innkeeper still served meat to his guests!  When the innkeeper placed a dish of meat before Bishop Nicholas, the saint cried out, "You are a murderer and this is the meat of children you have killed!  Show me where their remains are!"  The terrified innkeeper led the Bishop to the salting tub and showed him the cut up pieces of meat!  Nicholas blessed the meat and suddenly three boys stood up alive and well!  Then the holy Bishop prayed and converted the innkeeper.

St. Nicholas continued doing good works throughout his life.  Angels came on the day of his death and when he was praying the words, "Into Thy hands O Lord I commend my spirit," he died, while beautiful heavenly music was being played.  He was buried in a marble tomb at Myra and soon oil began to flow from his body.  Many years later the Saracens in Turkey destroyed the city of Myra!  On May 9, 1087, some soldiers from Bari, Italy obtained the relics of St Nicholas from some monks and carried them back to the town of Bari.  Later they were enshrined in a new church and the oil continued to flow from his bones! 

The miracles of St. Nicholas continued after his death.  A nobleman promised St. Nicholas, that if he gave him a son, he would go with the boy to his tomb and give him a golden cup!  The boy was born, and the nobleman had the cup made, but he liked the cup so much that he had another one made.  He and his boy took a ship to the Shrine of St. Nicholas and during this time the father asked the boy to fill the first cup with water.  When the boy tried to fill the cup with water, he fell into the sea and disappeared!  The father was heartbroken but to fulfill his vow, he travelled to the shrine and placed the second gold cup on the altar.  Suddenly he was thrust back with the cup and thrown to the ground!  He tried a second time and the same thing happened.  Then a wonderful miracle happened.  The boy came walking towards the shrine with the first golden cup saying, "Papa, when I fell into the water, St. Nicholas picked me up, and carried me here to his shrine!"  The father was beside himself with joy and in thanksgiving offered both cups to St. Nicholas! 

Pray to good St. Nicholas, and he will always help you. 

                                                                                                                    The End      

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