The Man Behind the Myth

Our lives have the ability to affect other lives dramatically. It can be over a course of years or in a single day. You are capable of changing someone’s life. Change shouldn’t be change for changes sake though. There is a person whose example is of particular interest to children this time of year. His name is Nicholas. There was evolution of story, legend, shape, and name over time, but the beginning of Santa started as Saint.

Let’s look back at just the facts.

Nicholas was Greek.

He was born around 270 AD.

The area he is from is now southern Turkey.

When he was young his parents died in an epidemic.

He came from a wealthy family and his parents brought him up as a devout Christian.

He is one of three men that received the office of bishop without first becoming a priest.

There are some very popular legends surrounding St. Nicholas. These legends also give reason for things like hanging Christmas stockings. I do not wish to delve into those legends so much because many of them are known. I want to focus in on one further fact of Nicholas’ life.

He was imprisoned for his faith. Nicholas, along with other priests, deacons, and bishops, were put in prison for their proclaimed Christianity. They remained faithful to their Lord even in horrible circumstances. In doing this they reflected Jesus’ obedient life to the Father. Just as a guilty man was released from prison before Jesus died and Jesus took not only his place but the whole world’s guilt. Similarly, thieves, murderers, and other criminals were released during Nicholas’ imprisonment. There was not room for the Christians and the criminals.

In the US anyone you meet would recognize a picture of Santa Claus. On the other hand, we may not recognize a picture of Nicholas of Patara and we don’t need to because what we remember is his life: generous man, zealous for Christ, and passionate about truth.


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