Nicholas of Myra

5 December 2009

Nicholas strikes his opponent. Fresco from Soumela

Nicholas was bishop of the Lycian port of Myra, and died on December 6. The year of his death has not been recorded, although a late tradition suggests that it may have been 342 or 343. The stories about him usually have parallels in Anatolian folklore (although I am unaware of another saint who, as a baby, refused his mother’s breast on Friday). If Nicholas published theological treatises, they have not survived. His first hagiography was written at least three centuries after his death by an obscure author known as Michael the Archimandrite. The most famous story about Nicholas, how he hit a heretic during the Council of Nicaea, is mentioned in a very late source and may be fiction.

To sum up: we know next to nothing about Nicholas of Myra, and I would not have written this brief blog entry if he hadn’t been the patron saint of my city, Amsterdam. Read more about him here – I promise you that it’s an interesting story.


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