Dear and Faithful Orthodox Christians,
Over 1700 years ago in the Roman town of Patera, the Christian parents Theophanes and Nonna gave birth to a son, our beloved Saint Nicholas. In his early years, Saint Nicholas would have heard of the time past when the holy Apostle Paul stopped in the port Town of Patera and changed ships on his way to visit with the faithful in Tyre (Acts 21 1-3). In time he became a Priest in Patara, made pilgrimage to the holy places in Jerusalem, and after returning, was raised to the office of Archbishop of the city of Myra.
As we ourselves now come to honour our great patron Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, together with our Metropolltan Gregory, our Father and Elder Isaac, Father Sergey, Father Pedros, and Father Protodeacon George, we join in spirit with the Orthodox Christians who have honoured him, and asked for his intercessions over the last seventeen centuries.
Saint Nicholas the Confessor and Archbishop of Myra
Having been ordained a Priest in Patara, as we said, he journeyed to the Holy Land and venerated the precious and life-giving Cross and the holy Sepulchre of Our Saviour. Desiring himself to remain in Jerusalem, he was obedient to God who revealed that he should return to his home, and shortly thereafter he was ordained Archbishop of Myra, the capital of that province of Lycia and near Patara. During his early years as Bishop, a great persecution came against the Christians under the orders of Emperors Diocletion and Maximian. Saint Nicholas was arrested for preaching the Salvation of Christ, and was chained and cast into prison. Remaining steadfast and untroubled by this, he taught, confirmed the faith, and cared for the many Christians imprisoned with him.
When the bright days of Saint Constantine the Roman Emperor came, Christianity was made legal, and Saint Nicholas was released and returned to his spiritual work in Lycia. Traveling when called upon by the Emperor to the First Council of Nicea, Nicholas was vigilant against the errors of Arius, and with the whole gathering of the Fathers proclaimed the true Orthodox Faith of Christ.
One of the innumerable Miracles of Saint Nicholas
Both during his life and after his repose, Saint Nicholas is renowned for his many countless miracles. Here we will recount one that is very instructive.
A number of mariners upon the sea were in danger of death as a gale arose tearing the sails of the ship amidst great waves. Having heard of the Nicholas the Archbishop of Myra, they called out in prayer for him to intercede and help them. Straightway a figure came to them across the sea, took the helm and steered the ship saying, ‘You called for me, stop fearing, I am with you.’ After guiding the ship for a time, and settling the storm, Saint Nicholas vanished. To properly show their gratitude, they set their course to Myra, and there found Saint Nicholas at the City Church and recognized him immediately as the one who indeed was saving captain of their ship. Now hear that as they gave thanks to Saint Nicholas and shared the miracle with all those around, Saint Nicholas filled with the Holy Spirt, and knowing their hearts, spoke to them directly and with love. ‘I beseech you my children, to correct your hearts and thoughts, so that you may be pleasing to Go. Man sees the outward man, but God sees the heart.’ And thus the crew having been physically saved, now by the Saints admonishment recognized their sins, and repenting of them sins received spiritual healing as well.
Rejoicing together in the Festival of Saint Nicholas, the Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, the great Wonderworker, let us also ask for his intercessions with the Saviour, that we receive enlightenment, support our holy Church of Saint Nicholas, and with repentance progress well in the fast until the great Feast of Nativity.
Through the intercessions of Saint Nicholas, O Saviour, save us!