Friday, December 6, 2013

Saint Nicholas Day

In many parts of Europe today is known as Saint Nicholas Day.

St. Nicholas was a fourth century Greek bishop in Myra (now part of Turkey).  December 6th (or 19th in the Orthodox church) is his feast day because it commemorates the anniversary of his death in 343 AD.  St. Nicholas came to be known as both a patron and protector of children and as a giver of gifts to those in need.  From the legends about his life and the Dutch version of his name, Sinterklaas, came the American Santa Claus.

To the right is a 1959 drawing Ade Bethune made depicting St. Nicholas, shown in his bishop's vestments.  Below is a drawing in the Ade Bethune Collection that Bethune made in 1943.  It illustrates one of the stories told of St. Nicholas.  According to the story three small children became lost and were captured by an evil butcher.  The butcher murdered them and placed them in a pickling tub.  St. Nicholas heard of the children and appealed to God to return them to life.

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