Archive | 6:17 am

The Real St. Nick

6 Dec

As we prepare for the sublime feast of the Nativity of Our Lord during these weeks of Advent, we can’t help but notice the trappings of our secular culture that continually impose themselves on the “holiday season.” Meanwhile, more overtly religious expressions, such as créches or Nativity scenes (or should we call them “holiday scenes”?), are systematically excluded from the public square.

As the father of six and a grandfather of one, the 800-pound gorilla in my living room–or, should I say, the jolly 300-pound man in the chimney–is Santa Claus. Through the years, how have I explained this peculiar man in the red suit to Brenda, Mary Kate, Virginia, Abigail, Samuel, Raymond, and Alex, not to mention my godchildren, nephews, and nieces? Why does he always show up this time of year?

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. His real name is St. Nicholas, and the universal Church celebrates his feast today. He was a fourth-century priest, abbot, and eventually Bishop of Myra, Lycia (modern Turkey). There is no doubt that he existed, and that he was universally recognized as a holy and generous Church leader who suffered for the faith.

Two episodes from St. Nicholas’ life form the basis of the folklore concerning Santa Claus. Continue reading