Our father among the saints Nicholas of Myra, Wonder-worker, was the archbishop of Myra in southern Asia Minor in the fourth century. While widely honored and venerated, not only in the Orthodox Church, but throughout most Christian groups, little is known historically of the life of Nicholas. He is known to have been archbishop of Myra and he may have participated in the Council of Nicaea in 325. In addition to being honored as the patron saint of many countries, notably Greece and Russia, and of cities, he is the patron of many occupational groups, most notably of sea-farers.
More than 1,600 years ago, in the year 270 AD, St. Nicholas was born not far from Myra, in a land that is now part of the country of Turkey. In those days Orthodox Christians were persecuted for their faith. It wasn’t easy to be a Christian. Many of them were tortured and executed because they believed in Christ.
Nicholas was taught by his parents to love the Lord with his whole mind, heart, soul, and with ail his strength. When they died he inherited their money. He used this to help the poor, the hungry, and the sick. Whenever he helped anyone he did it secretly, so that only God would know, He did not want praise from people; he wanted his reward to be only in Heaven.
After he gave away the money his parents had left him he decided to become a monk. He went to a monastery where he lived and worked and prayed, intending to spend the rest of his life repenting of his sins. But soon it became clear that God wanted him to be a priest, and so he began to study the Law of God.
St. Nicholas became the parish priest of a village church after his ordination. He worked very hard, instructing his flock and helping those in need. He also performed all the Divine Services and was a spiritual father to all.
St. Nicholas followed the words of our Lord, Lay up treasure for yourself in Heaven, by saying his prayers every day, by fasting, and by performing many good deeds. God was so pleased that He worked many miracles through him. Because he was able to calm storms on the sea he became known as the patron saint of sailors. Because he protected children (he even raised 3 children from the dead!), he is also a patron of young people. He was able to multiply food, just as our Saviour did with the fish and loaves, and in this way he once kept a whole city from starving. People began to call him a “wonderworker” (a person who works wonders or performs miracles). They were so inspired by his life of service to others that many of them, too, began to lead holy lives, filled with good deeds.
Orthodox children are fortunate to know the whole story of St. Nicholas, and not just one small part of it. We should try to tell our non-Orthodox friends and neighbors the truth about “Santa Claus” so that they too, can realize how important and wonderful it is to follow Christ!
Also, here is a good article about St. Nicholas from one of the 40 day Bloggers! http://theorthodoxlife.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/the-holy-anger-of-st-nicholas/