On this day, the righteous St. Nicholas, Bishop of Mora, departed. (St. Nicholas is the true personality behind the story of Santa Claus or Baba Noel, who leaves presents for children on Christmas Eve). He was from the city of Mora, his father's name was Epiphanius and the name of his mother was Tona. They were rich, as well as God-fearing people. They had no children to bring joy to their hearts and to inherit their wealth after their death. They remained without a son until they grew old and they were enveloped with despair. God had pity on them and gave them this saint. God made him holy and blessed since his childhood. When he reached school age, he demonstrated, through intelligence and knowledge, that he learned far more from the Holy Spirit than he did from his teachers. He learned all the doctrine and the teachings of the church since his young age and was appointed deacon. He became a monk in a monastery wherein his cousin was the abbot. Because he lived an ascetic and righteous life, they made him a priest when he was nineteen years old. God gave him the gift to work signs and wonders and to heal the sick.
There was a very rich man in the city of Mora who lost all his wealth. He had three daughters who had passed the age of marriage, and could not marry them because of his poverty. Satan caused the man to think that he should make his daughters live in sin so that they might get their food by means of fornication. God revealed to St. Nicholas the thoughts which were in this man's head. St. Nicholas took one hundred dinars of his father's money and tied it up in a sack, and during the night he threw the money into the window of that man's house. When the man found the gold, he was astonished and rejoiced exceeding and was able to give his eldest daughter away in marriage. During another night the saint threw another hundred dinars into the man's house and the man was able to give his second daughter away in marriage. The man wanted to know who this charitable person was. The third time when the saint threw the gold into the house, the man was watching and immediately when he felt the drop of the sack, he went out of his house running to see who was throwing the gold to him. He found the kind bishop St. Nicholas and the man bowed down at his feet and paid him great homage and thanked him because he saved his daughters from poverty and from a life of sin. The saint refused to accept any thanks and asked them to thank the Lord Who put this thought in his heart. St. Nicholas drove out the devil and his angels from people, he healed many sick people, and blessed little bread to satisfy many people.
Before being selected bishop, he saw a vision with a great throne and vestments placed on it and a man said to him, "Put on these vestments and sit on this throne." Another night he saw our Lady, St. Mary, giving him the vestments of the priesthood and our Lord Jesus Christ gave him the Gospel.
When the Bishop of Mora departed, the Angel of the Lord appeared to the Archbishop and told him the one who was chosen for this rank was Nicholas and described his virtues to him. When he woke up he told the bishops what he had seen, and they all believed that vision. They knew that it was from the Lord Jesus Christ. They took St. Nicholas and made him Bishop over the city of Mora. Shortly thereafter, Diocletian reigned, and the spread of pagan worship increased. He arrested many believers and he heard about this saint. He seized him and tortured him severely for many years, and our Lord Christ strengthened him, protected him, and raised him whole from all these tortures so that he might become a mighty branch of the tree of faith. When Diocletian was tired of torturing him, he cast him into prison. Saint Nicholas wrote to his congregation from prison until God destroyed Diocletian and the reign of Constantine the Just began. King Constantine brought out all confessors from prison, among them was St. Nicholas, who returned to his city.
He was one of the three hundred and eighteen bishops assembled in the city of Nicea and he rebuked Arius and cast him out.
Having finished his course and guarded his flock, he departed to be with God. He sat on the episcopal throne for more than forty years, and all the days of his life were about eighty years.
May his blessing be with us and Glory be to God forever. Amen.