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Monday, December 6, 2010

Celebrating the Real Santa Claus...

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of one of the most revered saints in Christian history, St. Nicholas; a fourth century Bishop, whose reputation of secret gift-giving, generosity and love for children became the model for Santa Claus.

St. Nick is near and dear to me since he is the patron saint and namesake of my 3-year-old son.

According to legend, Nicholas was raised by devout Christian parents, in a time when being Christians had its risks. They were rounded up, tortured and put to death (the usual; fed to lions, beheaded, crucified, etc.). His parents died in an epidemic, when Nicholas was in his teens, and left him a large inheritance.

Nicholas decided to use his inheritance for the greater good of others.

The stories of St. Nicholas' benevolence have endured through the centuries but one of his most widely told stories is one where he kept a desperate father from having to prostitute his daughters to put food on the table.

Catholic on line writes:
A citizen of Patara had lost all his money, and had moreover to support three daughters who could not find husbands because of their poverty; so the wretched man was going to give them over to prostitution. This came to the ears of Nicholas, who thereupon took a bag of gold and, under cover of darkness threw it in at the open window of the man's house. Here was a dowry for the eldest girl and she was soon duly married. At intervals Nicholas did the same for the second and third; at the last time the father was on the watch, recognized his benefactor and overwhelmed him with his gratitude.

St. Nicholas is said to be the most represented Christian saint by artists through the centuries, outside of the Blessed Mother.

Tonight, my family and I are starting a new tradition.  We will be holding a small celebration for Old St. Nick by having our son blow out candles, cutting a cake and telling our children the story of the real Santa Claus.

For more on the story of Santa Claus, see the St. Nicholas Center.

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