December 6, 2011 1 Comment
Well, sort of… It is the feast day of St Nicholas. The historical St Nick: Santa Claus punched me in the face:
St. Nicholas spent more time at the local docks than in church. No doubt, this is where St. Nicholas learned to box.
Born to wealthy parents sometime between 260 and 280 A.D., St. Nicholas was orphaned as a teen by a plague. Raised to be a devote Christian, Nicholas sold most of his inheritance and used the proceeds to ease the plight of the sick and needy of Myra. Unusual though it was for a layman to become bishop, legend has it that Nicholas was extended the office after rescuing a sailor injured in a storm. After securing medical attention for the man at his own expense, Nicholas went to the chapel to give thanks. Upon his arrival, the church elders offered him the job. There is little doubt that Nicholas’ history of generosity in Myra and the exaltations of the rescued sailor had much to do with the unusual selection of layman Nicholas.
Myra (modern Demre, Turkey) was a Byzantine trade center on the south-west coast of Asia Minor. It was an important stop on the Constantinople-Alexandria route and had an impressive harbor. Many stories of St. Nicholas center on the port. This may have less to do with St. Nicholas’ famed mercy and more to do with his own self-interest. This patron saint of sailors and merchants very likely own a fleet of ships. After all, to be that generous, Nicholas needed a source of income.
Dealing with Byzantine sailors was a hands-on job. St. Nicholas, hardened by his imprisonment under Diocletian, knew how to handle himself in a fight. Modern forensic facial reconstruction of the relic-skull of St. Nicholas, now in Bari, Italy, reveal a stout man with a bent nose, the result of several breaks. Being the genuine man of his roots, St. Nicholas didn’t leave his common ways behind when attending to Church matters.
Constantine convened the Council at Nicaea in 325 to settle the Arian controversy. During a heated debate with Arius, Nicholas, indignant at Arius’ unyielding obstinacy, punched him in the face. Though secretly thankful, the emperor had no choice but to strip Nicholas of his bishopric…
The rest here.