1 Russian Icon, Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, with footnotes #8

Artist unknown
Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker

Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
14" W x 17.5" H (35.6 cm x 44.4 cm)
Private collection

Saint Nicholas of Myra (traditionally 15 March 270–6 December 343), was an early Christian bishop of the ancient Greek city of Myra in Asia Minor during the time of the Roman Empire. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students in various cities and countries around Europe. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints, and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus (“Saint Nick”) through Sinterklaas.

Very little is known about the historical Saint Nicholas. The earliest accounts of his life were written centuries after his death. He is said to have been born in Patara, Lycia in Asia Minor to wealthy Christian parents. In one of the earliest attested and most famous incidents from his life, he is said to have rescued three girls from being forced into prostitution by dropping a sack of gold coins through the window of their house each night for three nights so their father could pay a dowry for each of them. He was cast into prison during the persecution of Diocletian, but was released after the accession of Constantine. An early list makes him an attendee at the First Council of Nicaea in 325, but he is never mentioned in any writings by people who were actually at the council. Late, he was temporarily defrocked and imprisoned during the Council for slapping the heretic Arius. Another famous late legend tells how he resurrected three children who had been murdered and pickled in brine by a butcher planning to sell them as pork during a famine. More on Saint Nicholas

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