Saint Nicholas of Myra is one of our main Patron Saints. In Russian he has several other names: Nikolaj Ug’odnik, Sviat’itel Nikolaj,Nikolaj Chudotv’orets/Wondermaker. In the Orthodox tradition he is Saint Patron of sailors, prisoners, orphans.There are numerous reconstructed churches around Russia dedicated to him. Many of them managed to survive a hostile Soviet period when Christianity was forbidden, while numerous churches & icons were destroyed.
His hagiography tells that he was born in a rich family at a Greek town Pttara in the 3rd century. The place kept the Hellenic culture no matter the Roman dominion. He was pious since childhood & dedicated his life to Christianity: he read the Scripture, prayed hard cultivating the Saint Spirit in his soul. Later his uncle made him a priest & trusted him preaching. After his parents’ death, Saint Nicholas donated their wealth to the poor.
His Saint service as a bishop of Myra began at the period of great Christian persecutions (303-311). When the dark times were over Saint Nicholas managed to reinforce Christianity in his lands: he fought against paganism, protected the religion from heresies, especially from the Arianism popular that period. There is a legend that at the First Council of Nicaea he lost his temped & slapped his opponent Arius in the face. However, many historian doubt it to have been true.
In the Orthodox Christian tradition Saint Nicholas is also admired as Patron of defamed people, of those who are in a great need. The memory about his wonder never fades in the Russian mind, it passes from generation to generation. I suppose that prayers to Saint Nicholas come next after those dedicated to our Lord & to Virgin Mary. Indeed…He never ignores any pleading coming from us. At the same time his pious hagiography should be a good example to follow…at least in the frames of our humble life.