NICKOLAOS OF MYRA AND THE LEGEND OF SANTA CLAUS
By Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© December 2015, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Many people are convinced that the legend of Santa Claus is completely fake, perhaps made up by the toy industry. However, this is not true. The legend of Santa Claus is based on the very true story of a wonderful man, Saint Nicholas, also called Nickolaos of Myra.
Saint Nickolaos was born on March 15, 270 A.D. in the city of Patara, a seaport on the Mediterranean Sea near present-day Turkey. He was the only child of wealthy Greek parents. Numerous statues and paintings of him exist in Europe. He was definitely a real person.
His parents died in a influenza epidemic when he was four years old. His uncle was the bishop of Patara. He took Nickolaos in, and raised him in the traditions of the very new Christian religion. This was a wonderful experience for Nickolaos, and the boy became devoutly religious almost overnight.
A very religious young man. Nickolaos grew up soon after the death of Jesus, and learned the original teachings. These had been spread far and wide by the third century A.D.
He also learned the teachings of other wise men who had studied with Jesus, but whose writings do not appear in today’s Christian liturgy. By practicing the recommended diet, lifestyle and mental exercises, Nickolaus became very healthy, strong and wise.
Becoming a priest. When he matured, Nickolaos became a priest in the new religion of Jesus. At that time, the Christian religion was not organized. There were priests, healers and other characters preaching the doctrines that Jesus had taught for only three and half years, but which revolutionized religion on the planet earth.
Nickolaos settled in the city of Myra, very near the modern-day Turkish city of Demre. There he established a church and began teaching the doctrines of Jesus. He was very successful because people were hungry for the truth, and the stories of the miracles of Jesus had spread across the world and ignited people’s imagination and excitement.
A WITNESS TO CHRIST
Nickolaos often spoke publicly of Jesus, even when to do so was very dangerous. He always remained faithful to this cause, despite imprisonment, torture and exile for his beliefs in the early part of his life.
He is celebrated as a true people's saint because of the way he lived. This was unusual because most early saints were martyrs who had died for their faith. Nickolaos was an example of how to live, rather than how to die in times of persecution.
The church started by Nickolaos offered food for the poor and healing for anyone. The church also offered a clean bed to stay in for the homeless, or for anyone who needed a bed for the night. These were common activities of churches and monasteries of that time.
The church also offered lessons on nutrition and health. This was a vital teaching at a time when starvation and poor diets were very common on earth. He also taught people about healthy lifestyles, sexual restraint and other aspects of how to live healthfully.
Esoteric teachings. However, his church also offered training in the science of what is called Development on this website. This is not well known, except by some Catholic scholars who have read the books by Nickolaos.
The Santa legend. In fact, the esoteric training that he offered is the basis for some of the Santa legends. For example, Santa Claus does not age. Bodily rejuvenation was part of the development training.
Santa also knows the needs and behavior of every child on earth. This is an amazing feat of knowledge and wisdom. Santa also works closely with the elves and other unusual beings.
Is this really possible, you may ask? It is possible, I would suggest. Saint Nickolaos developed himself and became an evolved human being with certain unusual abilities. I believe we can all improve ourselves greatly with a nutritional balancing program, provided one does it faithfully and completely. I have seen positive changes in myself and in others who have stayed with the program and “worked the program” carefully.
The church also taught people how to prevent and heal many common ailments. Today this would be called natural healing advice.
At this time, life on earth was difficult, with much poverty and acute infectious diseases. Tuberculosis was one of the worst diseases, and killed millions of people. Influenza was also a dangerous disease, as were the bubonic plague and smallpox.
Most people do not realize how much better things are today in the area of health! Even the worst places on earth are healthier today than most places were 2000 years ago.
Hygiene and nutrition. Today’s improvement is mainly due to much better hygiene and nutrition – and not due to drug medicine, as many are taught. In fact, there are still no drugs to stop influenza and plague. The difference today is that we don’t have rats and raw sewage in the streets, which carry diseases.
Even our polluting gas-powered automobiles are MUCH cleaner than riding around on horses that defecate all over the streets, spreading many diseases.
Vaccines. The health improvements on earth are not due to the smallpox and flu vaccines, as some claim. The vaccines came much later, after these diseases started going away on their own. For much more on this subject, please read Vaccination on this website.
Needed today. At the time of Nickolaos, teaching about diet, lifestyle and herbology were very important, and the church did this well. Modern churches could take a lesson from this. The health of the people is not good at all today, either, although the diseases are chronic degenerative ones, not acute infections.
Church services. The church of Nickolaos offered regular services, but they were nothing like most church services today. Instead, they began with a talk by Nickolaos that lasted an hour or a little more.
Following the talk, good food was served - with NO cookies, ice cream or cake, like today. Next was a group mental exercise, identical to the one taught on this website, according to what I have read.
There were no rituals, no singing, no guitar-playing, and no socializing. These things are not needed, and they distract from the true purpose of the church, in the opinion of Nickolaos.
Saint Nickolaus’s original church in Myra, Turkey has recently being renovated and hosts many pilgrams and tourists each year.
THE COUNCIL OF NICEA
When the Roman Empire became Christian under Emperor Constantine, Nickolaus was invited by the emperor to serve on the First Council Of Nicea.
This was one of the most important meetings in the history of the earth. Only twenty or so leaders of the new Christian religion gathered to decide how to present the Christian religion. They would decide what would be the “official” doctrines and rituals of the church. They would also decide the order of the services, and what was to be included and excluded. It was a monumental task.
Preserving the true teachings. At the meetings, which went on for several months, Nickolaus was a staunch defender of the original teachings of Jesus. He fought hard to prevent others from adding a lot of ritual and changing the teachings of Jesus. In this, he was somewhat alone, sadly.
Many of the early Christian practitioners, as they were called, did not understand the teachings of Jesus too well. They believed the teachings were too complex and strange for most people to grasp or identify with. So they “simplified” them. This Nickolaos opposed vigorously.
1. Ritual. According to Saint Nickolaos, Jesus did not stress ritual at all. Jesus was very upset with the Jewish priests and their rituals, which were never part of the original teachings of Moses.
Jesus wanted the people to live simply, healthfully, and with love. Church rituals had no place in this. They just confuse people, brainwash people, dull their minds and waste valuable time.
2. The church hierarchy. Jesus also did not believe in powerful priests and bishops. He wanted the church leaders to be of the people and for the people. In other words, he directly opposed the religious hierarchy that had developed in the Hebrew religion, which again was never a part of the teachings of Moses.
3. Love. Jesus stressed love in all things, such as helping the poor and spreading the idea that God loves us, God forgives us, and God’s grace has spread over the face of the earth.
4. Health. Jesus taught people how to live healthfully. This has been omitted almost completely from the New Testament of the Bible, sadly. This is very much needed today, when people overeat, do not sleep enough, and indulge in many other harmful habits.
5. Grace and mercy. Jesus taught that God is love, and God gives grace to all, regardless of one’s age, health, position in society or anything else.
God is also a God of mercy. One does not need to pray for mercy, as the Catholic church now teaches. The mercy is there for you.
6. Forgiveness. God forgives everyone for everything. This is the ironclad spiritual law. You are forgiven for anything you have done or failed to do. Just live well from now on.
7. Love yourself. It is not right to teach people to love others, but not to love themselves. We must therefore include ourselves in the circle of our love. In other words, we must always love ourselves, no matter what.
8. Heal others. Jesus taught that we can and must go out among the people and heal them. This is not only to produce a healthier world. It is also for our own salvation, which somehow is connected to the salvation and healing of others.
9. Thoughts are powerful. Jesus taught that our thoughts are powerful. We need to watch our thoughts, at all times. Like a garden, we need to cultivate happy, uplifting thoughts and uproot and remove the rest.
10. Take responsibility. We are to take full responsibility for our lives, no matter how confused or confusing this may seem. Blaming others for our plight is not wise, no matter how things look.
11. Each is an extension of God. Each of us is the extension of God’s love into this world of form. We are never condemned, and we need never pray for things or for money. We do need to pray to recall the truth that we are an extension of the Love of God into this physical world.
12. Thy will be done. Jesus offered but one prayer for all to pray. We are to ask for God’s will in all that we are and all that we do.
Today, the Catholic church does not even say that prayer during their services! Yet the Lord’s Prayer is the most important prayer one can pray.
13. Judge not. Be careful about judging the lives of other people. It is much better to develop ourselves. This does not mean not to discern in the light. At all times, we must discern the truth and act accordingly.
14. Celebrate life. Jesus taught that life is a great gift, and we are to celebrate that gift often. God is with us. We are always in His heart. Therefore, celebrate, rejoice, be not anxious, and be not sad.
Nickolaos argued that people could certainly understand these doctrines of Jesus. If they did not understand them, then we would write books to explain them. There was no need to complicate the doctrines, and add to them many untrue ideas. However, Nickolaos was outvoted on many of these issues.
The Christian religion is thriving in some areas, but is losing members because it does not teach enough of the truth of Jesus, Nickolaos would say. It needs to revert to the original teachings, some of which other Christian sects teach, but not enough, he would say.
Serving on the Council of Nicea was a great honor for Nickolaos, but a sad time in his life as he watched the beautiful teachings of Jesus be watered down to make them more “palatable”.
CONTRIBUTION TO CHRISTIANITY
Although he was outvoted on some matters, Nickolaos made a deep contribution to the Christian faith by insisting that certain tenets of Jesus were preserved and taught to the world. The main ones that were preserved were the ideas of God’s grace, God’s mercy, and God’s love.
There were not new teachings, by the way. The Hebrew religion contains them. However, they had been covered up in a web of ritual and priestly hierarchy so they are hardly recognizable. Therefore, he restated them simply for all to hear.
Many miracles were attributed to Nickolaos. As a result, he earned the name of The Wonderworker.
Healing the sick. Among the miracles was an ability to heal the sick of many ailments using mainly healthful nutrition.
Junk food, such as refined sugar and white flour, did not exist in his day. However, people often ate spoiled food or just did not eat much, at all, due to poverty or bad teeth. And, like today, people did not eat enough cooked vegetables. Most people lived mainly on meat and grain.
Feeding the multitudes. He was also able to feed the people of his city during a famine with grain that miraculously did not consume the grain. This brought him a lot of attention.
Resurrecting the dead. He also brought back to life a number of dead and dying children, as well as many adults. Mostly, this was due to his knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and the power of prayer, at which he excelled.
The Elixir. To this day, once a year a liquid flows out of the coffin that contains the physical remains of Nickolaos in Bari, italy. This liquid tastes like rose water. It builds strength in the body. It also has other healing properties that have been confirmed by careful scientific investigation by the Italian government.
I am told that the liquid is placed there by advanced souls. They guard the remains of Saint Nickolaos, and want to keep his memory alive.
Nickolaos’s fame and admiration spread widely in Europe in the hundred years after his passing. At that time, the Catholic church had no formal procedure for declaring a person a saint. So his sainthood was informal, but very definite. One could say it was by popular demand.
The patron saint. Because he loved children and resurrected several, he became the patron saint of children. His intellectual acuity earned him the patron sainthood of all students. He is also the patron saint of sailors, thanks to another miracle he performed with a ship on the Mediterranean Sea. He was of Greek descent, and today he is the patron saint of the entire nation of Greece, as well as that of all the nations of the “low countries” - the Netherlands, Belgium, Lichtenstein, and the surrounding areas.
Of all the nations, Albania today venerates St. Nickolaos the most. The Eastern Orthodox and Russian Orthodox churches celebrate a feast of St. Nickolaos on December 6, the day of his passing.
Many churches and alters have been built in Europe to honor him. Many around the world pray and ask for guidance from him. Several songs, hymns and operettas have also been composed about him and are still popular in Europe.
Nickolaos passed from the earth at the age of 73 on December 6, 343 A.D. and was buried in his home city. Later, his remains were moved to Bari, Italy, because of danger to the grave from invading Muslim forces.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH SANTA CLAUS?
Rather than debate the rumors about Santa Claus, we should be teaching our children that the legend has been embellished, but is based on the story of a great man. Nickolaos of Myra lived, and was a wise, kind, generous, and understanding soul. He is an inspiration to us all.
The truth of St. Nick has been badly distorted - with the red jump suit, flying reindeer, fat belly, and ho-ho-ho laugh. Underneath it all, however, is a beautiful story. So teach your children well the truth about Santa.
Excellent references for everything in this article, and more, are found on a number of websites. The following are from www.stnicholascenter.org and from www.wikipedia.com.
1. Willis Jones, The Santa Claus Book, Walker Publishing Company, 1976, p. 123, which includes a letter from the director of the Office for Divine Worship of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
2. Wire Services—United Press International The Canonization of Saints
3. Catholic Apologetics The Commemoration of Saints and Heroes of the Christian Church in the Anglican Communion.
5. Canonization The Orthodox Church in America.
5. Canonization of Saints Religion Facts
12. Cunningham, Lawrence (2005). A brief history of saints. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-4051-1402-8. “The fourth-century Saint Nikolaos of Myra, Greek Anatolia (in present-day Turkey) spread to Europe through the port city of Bari in southern Italy… Devotion to the saint in the Low countries became blended with Nordic folktales, transforming this early Greek bishop into that Christmas icon, Santa Claus’.”
16. Domenico, Roy Palmer (2002). The regions of Italy: a reference guide to history and culture. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 21. ISBN 0-313-30733-4. “Saint Nicholas (Bishop of Myra) replaced Sabino as the patron saint of the city… A Greek from what is now Turkey, he lived in the early fourth century.”
17. Burman, Edward (1991). Emperor to emperor: Italy before the Renaissance. Constable. p. 126. ISBN 0-09-469490-7. “For although he is the patron saint of Russia, and the model for a northern invention such as Santa Claus, Nicholas of Myra was a Greek.”
18. Ingram, W. Scott; Ingram, Asher, Scott; Robert (2004). Greek Immigrants. Infobase Publishing. p. 24. ISBN 9780816056897. “The original Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, was a Greek born in Asia Minor (now modern Turkey) in the fourth century. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life to Christianity.”
19. Lanzi, Gioia (2004). Saints and their symbols: recognizing saints in art and in popular images. Liturgical Press. p. 111. ISBN 0-8146-2970-9. “Nicholas was born around 270 AD in Patara on the coast of what is now western Turkey.”
20. Collins, Ace (2009). Stories Behind Men of Faith. Zondervan. p. 121. ISBN 9780310564560. “Nicholas was born in the Greek city of Patara around 270 AD. The son of a businessman named Theophanes and his wife, Nonna, the child’s earliest years were spent in Myra… As a port on the Mediterranean Sea, in the middle of the sea lanes that linked Egypt, Greece and Rome, Myra was a destination for traders, fishermen, and merchant sailors. Spawned by the spirit of both the city’s Greek heritage and the ruling Roman government, cultural endeavors such as art, drama, and music were mainstays of everyday life.”
21. Faber, Paul (2006). Sinterklaas overseas: the adventures of a globetrotting saint. KIT Publishers. p. 7. ISBN 9789068324372. “The historical figure that served as model for the Dutch Sinterklaas was born around 270 AD in the port of Patara in the Greek province of Lycia in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). His Greek name Nikolaos means something along the lines of “victor of the people”.”
35. Carus, Louise (1 October 2002). The Real St. Nicholas. Quest Books. p. 2. ISBN 9780835608138. “In Myra, the traditional St. Nicholas Feast Day is still celebrated on December 6, which many believe to be the anniversary of St. Nicholas's death. This day is honored throughout Western Christendom, in lands comprising both Catholic and Protestant communities (in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Saint's feast date is December 19). On December 5, the eve of St. Nicholas Day, some American boys and girls put their shoes outside their bedroom door and leave a small gift in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there.”