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St. Nicholas was born in the 3rd century (250) near Patara which is today modern day Turkey.
St. Nicholas was born to very wealthy parents (Epiphanus and Johanna) who brought him up in the Catholic Faith.
Due to a local epidemic, St. Nicholas lost both his parents leaving him with an Uncle, Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra. St. Nicholas would take the name of his Uncle. He learned to read the Scriptures, to serve at Mass, would become a Presbyter.
Soon, he became known for his charity among the poor and needy, the sick and the suffering. He would secretly give gifts to children, he would put coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him.
Legends tell of him saving a woodcutters Daughters from slavery and did many more acts of kindness.
As a young man, he became the Bishop of Myra continuing his act of love for God’s people. St. Nicholas would fall prey in the persecution of the Roman Emperor Diocletion who’s Edict savagely persecuted the Church.
Many Religious were placed in prisons, were killed by the local magistrates. The prisons were so full there were little room for the real criminals. Such was the hatred of Diocletian.
When Constantine became the Emperor, he freed the Christians and St. Nicholas was released back into society with his faith intact.
Historically, St. Nicholas participated at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. and helped draft the present day “Nicean Creed” that we profess at Mass.
It is debated that St. Nicholas slapped the heretic Arius because of the heresy he was preaching at the Council.
Legend has it that the Bishops were not happy with what he did and placed him in jail. That night Jesus and Mary appear to St. Nicholas giving him the Gospels and the bishops tunic.
St. Nicholas dies in Myra between 343-352 on 6 December.
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