St. Nicholas (December 6)
St. Nicholas was born into a wealthy family at Patara, Lycia, Asia Minor. He was imprisoned during the persecution of Diocletian, attended the Council of Nicaea, and died at Myra, where he was buried in the cathedral. Nicholas was chosen Bishop of Myra and devoted himself to helping the poor. Upon hearing that an impoverished father had to sell his three daughters because he had no money for their marriage dowry, Nicholas threw a small bag of gold into the poor man's window on three different evenings, and his daughters were able to marry. Finally, he was discovered as the bearer of these gifts.
Another tale relates that during a famine in his country, Nicholas was able through his prayers to guide some passing ships filled with grain to come to relieve his starving people. Needless to say, with stories like these to his credit, Nicholas became a popular saint after his death. Seamen throughout Europe and Asia, as well as his own people, adopted him as their patron. His relics were carried to Bari, Italy, in 1087, after the Moslem invasion of Asia Minor. Countless churches in England, France and Germany bear his name. In Germany he became associated with Christmas, and as a giver of gifts on that holy day he is known in America as the kind and generous "Santa Claus."