St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Lycia, became famous as a great saint of God. All about this revered saint you will learn from this article!
He was born in the town of Patara of the Lycian region (on the southern coast of the Maloasian peninsula), was the only son of the pious parents of Theophanes and Nonna who made a vow to devote him to God. The fruit of long prayers to the Lord of childless parents, baby Nikolai from the day he was born showed people the light of his future glory of the great miracle worker. His mother, Nona, was immediately healed of the disease after delivery. The newborn infant, still in the font of baptism, stood on his feet for three hours, not supported by anyone, thus honoring the Blessed Trinity. St. Nicholas in infancy began life in a post-natal manner, took his mother's milk on Wednesdays and Fridays, only once, after the evening prayers of his parents.
From childhood Nikolai succeeded in studying the Divine Scriptures; During the day he did not leave the temple, but at night he prayed and read books, creating in himself the worthy dwelling of the Holy Spirit. His uncle, Bishop of Patar Nicholas, rejoicing at the spiritual successes and high piety of his nephew, put him on the reader, and then elevated Nicholas to the rank of priest, making him his assistant and instructing him to teach the flock to the flock. Serving the Lord, the young man was burning with spirit, and experience in matters of faith was like an elder, which caused surprise and deep respect for believers.
Constantly working and awake, abiding in incessant prayer, the presbyter Nicholas showed great mercy to the flock, coming to the aid of the suffering, and distributed his entire estate to the poor. Having learned about the bitter need and misery of a previously rich citizen of his city, Saint Nicholas saved him from great sin. Having three adult daughters, the desperate father conceived to give them to fornication to save himself from hunger. The saint, grieving over the perishing sinner, secretly threw three sacks of gold in the window at night and saved the family from falling and spiritual death. While working alms, St. Nicholas always tried to do it secretly and hide his benefactions.
Departing on the worship of holy places in Jerusalem, the Bishop of Patarsky handed over the administration of the flock to St. Nicholas, who performed obedience with care and love. When the bishop returned, he, in turn, asked for the blessing to travel to the Holy Land. On the way, the saint predicted an impending storm, threatening the ship with sinking, for he saw the devil himself who entered the ship. At the request of desperate travelers, he drowned his prayer in the waves of the sea. According to his prayer, one sailor, a sailor who had fallen from the mast and was killed to death, was made sound.
Having reached the ancient city of Jerusalem, Saint Nicholas, having ascended to Golgotha, thanked the Savior of the human race and walked all the holy places, worshiping and creating prayer. At night on the Zion mountain, the locked doors of the church opened themselves before the great pilgrim who had come. Walking around the shrines connected with the earthly ministry of the Son of God, Saint Nicholas decided to retire to the desert, but was stopped by the Divine voice, which urged him to return to his homeland.
Returning to Lycia, the saint, striving for the silent life, joined the brotherhood of the monastery, called St. Sion. However, the Lord again announced another path that awaits him: "Nicholas, not here is the field on which you must bring the fruit that I expected; but turn and go into the world, and let My Name be glorified in you. "In a vision, the Lord gave him the gospel in an expensive salary, and the Most Holy Mother of God is an omophorion.
Indeed, after the death of Archbishop John, he was elected bishop of the World of Lycia, after one of the bishops of the Council, who was deciding on the election of a new archbishop, indicated the elect of God - Saint Nicholas - in the vision. Called to feed the Church of God in the episcopal rank, St. Nicholas remained the same great ascetic, showing the flock an image of meekness, mildness and love for people.
This was especially expensive for the Lycian Church during the persecution of Christians under Emperor Diocletian (284-305). Bishop Nikolai, imprisoned with other Christians, supported them and exhorted them to firmly bear the bondage, torture and torment. The Lord Himself preserved unscathed. Upon the accession of St Constantine the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles, St. Nicholas was returned to his flock, with joy met his mentor and intercessor.
Despite the great meekness of spirit and purity of heart, St. Nicholas was an ardent and daring warrior of the Church of Christ. Fighting with spirits of anger, the saint circumambulated pagan temples and temples in the city of Myra and its environs, crushing idols and turning to the dust of the temple. In 325, St. Nicholas was a participant in the First Ecumenical Council, which accepted the Nicene Creed, and took up arms with Saints Sylvester, Pope, Alexander of Alexandria, Spiridon of Trimiphunt and others from 318 of the Holy Fathers of the Cathedral to the heretic Arius.
In the heat of conviction, Saint Nicholas, who was fervent with jealousy towards the Lord, even killed a false teacher, for which he was deprived of the prelate omophorion and imprisoned. However, several holy fathers were revealed in the vision that the Lord Himself and the Mother of God had dedicated the saint to the bishop, having given him the gospel and omophorion. The Fathers of the Cathedral, having realized that the boldness of the prelate is pleasing to God, glorified the Lord, and restored his holy saint in a bishopric. Returning to his diocese, the saint brought her peace and blessing, sowing the word of Truth, stopping at the very root of injustice and vanity of wisdom, exposing the hardcore heretics and healing the fallen and evading ignorance. He was truly the light of the world and the salt of the earth, for his life was light and his word was dissolved by the salt of wisdom.
Even during his lifetime, the saint performed many miracles. Of these, the most famous was the saint's deliverance from the death of three husbands who had been unjustly condemned by an avaricious town governor. The saint boldly approached the executioner and held his sword, already brought over the heads of the condemned. The mayor, convicted by Saint Nicholas in untruth, repented and asked him for forgiveness. At the same time, three military commanders were present, sent by Emperor Constantine to Phrygia. They did not yet suspect that they would soon also have to seek intercession from St. Nicholas, since they undeservedly slandered the emperor and were doomed to death.
Having appeared in a dream to the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine, Saint Nicholas urged him to release the unjustly condemned to death of military commanders who, in prison, prayerfully called for the help of the saint. Many other miracles he accomplished, for many years struggling in his ministry. According to the prayers of the saint, the city of Myra was saved from severe famine. Having appeared in a dream to an Italian merchant and left him three gold coins, which he found in his hand, he woke up the next morning and asked him to sail to the Worlds and sell it there. Not once saved the saint drowning in the sea, brought from captivity and imprisonment in dungeons.
Having reached a deep old age, Saint Nicholas peacefully departed to the Lord († 345-351). His honest relics were preserved imperishable in the local cathedral church and exuded a healing miracle, from which many received healings. In 1087, his relics were transferred to the Italian city of Bari, where they are still resting (22 May, 9 May s.c.).
The name of the great saint of God, Saint and miracle worker Nicholas, an early helper and prayer book for all who came to him, became famous throughout the world, in many countries and peoples. In Russia, many cathedrals, monasteries and churches are dedicated to his holy name. No, perhaps, not a single city without the St. Nicholas Church.
In the name of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker was baptized by Saint Patriarch Photius in 866, the Kiev prince Askold, the first Russian Christian prince († 882). Above the tomb of Askold, the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Olga (the memory of 11 July) erected the first church of St. Nicholas in the Russian Church in Kiev. The main cathedrals were dedicated to St. Nicholas in Izborsk, Ostrov, Mozhaisk, Zaraysk. In Novgorod the Great one of the main temples of the city is the Nikolo-Dvorishchenskaya church (XII), which later became a cathedral.
Famous and honored Nikolsky temples and monasteries are in Kiev, Smolensk, Pskov, Toropets, Galich, Arkhangelsk, Veliky Ustyug, Tobolsk. Moscow was famous for several dozen temples dedicated to the saint, the three St. Nicholas monasteries were in the Moscow diocese: Nikolo-Greek (Old) - in China-city, Nikolo-Perervinsky and Nikolo-Ugreshsky. One of the main towers of the Moscow Kremlin is called Nikolskaya.
Most often, temples were placed to the saint on trading squares by Russian merchants, seafarers and explorers, who revered the miracle-worker Nikolai as the patron of all wandering on the surface and at sea. Sometimes they received the naming of "Nicholas the Wet." A lot of rural churches in Russia are dedicated to the miracle-worker Nicholas, sacred to the peasants merciful representative before the Lord about all the people in their labors. And St. Nicholas does not leave the Russian land as his intercession. Ancient Kiev keeps a memory of the miracle of the salvation of the saint by the saint of a drowned infant. The great miracle-worker, hearing the mournful prayers of his parents who lost their only heir, took the baby out of the water at night, revived it, and laid it on the choir of St. Sophia's temple before his miraculous image. Here, the rescued baby was found in the morning by happy parents who glorified the miracle-worker with the multitude of the people of St. Nicholas.
Many miraculous icons of St. Nicholas appeared in Russia and came from other countries. This is the ancient Byzantine girdle image of the saint (XII), brought to Moscow from Novgorod, and a huge icon, written in the XIII century Novgorod master.
Two images of the miracle worker are especially common in the Russian Church: St. Nicholas of Zaraisk - in growth, with a blessing hand and the Gospel (this image was brought to Ryazan in 1225 by Byzantine princess Eupraxia, who became the wife of the Ryazan prince Theodore and died in 1237 with her husband and baby- son at the invasion of Batu), and St Nicholas of Mozhaisk - also in growth, with a sword in his right hand and a city in his left - in memory of a miraculous salvation, according to the prayers of the saint, the city of Mozhaisk from the attack of the enemy. It is impossible to list all the blessed icons of St. Nicholas. Every Russian city, every church is blessed with such an icon according to the prayers of the saint.
Sacred Tradition, of which church art is also a part, has for centuries preserved the portrait features of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Worker. His appearance on the icons always had a pronounced personality, so even a person who is not experienced in the field of iconography can easily recognize the image of this saint.
The local reverence for Archbishop Nikolai of Lycia began shortly after his death, and veneration on the territory of the entire Christian world takes shape over the course of the fourth and seventh centuries. However, in connection with the iconoclastic persecution, the iconography of the saint is formed rather late, only in the X-XI centuries. The oldest image of a saint in monumental painting is in the Roman church of Santa Maria Antiqua.
The image of St. Nicholas (in height or waist) was present in the scenery of the Byzantine and Old Russian temples, where he could be placed separately or as part of the composition "Svyatitelsky Chin" in the altar. With his right hand the saint blesses, and in the left, often covered with felony and omophorion, holds the Gospel. The vestments are: a garment, a bail, a felon, under which a mace is visible, and an omophorion. The ancient saints were usually depicted in the felony, and not in the saccus, since until the fourteenth century only the Patriarch of Constantinople had the right to wear a saccus. The fresco and mosaic images of St. Nicholas are preserved in the St. Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople, in the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, in the Church of the Assumption in Daphni, in St. George's Cathedral of Staraya Ladoga and in many other temples.
The most ancient of the iconographic images of the Mirlikian prelate known to us is the image of Nicholas with the Savior and selected saints in the fields from the collection of the Sinai monastery of St. Catherine. This icon is noteworthy because the hand gesture is not a blessing. Such a gesture can be characterized as pointing to the Gospel, or as a "gesture of speech."
On many icons on the sides of the saint (in the background or in medallions) images of Christ and the Mother of God are placed, which return to St. Nicholas the Gospel and omophorion - attributes of hierarchical dignity. This is an image of a miraculous vision, which was to the participants of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea and showed that the saint was deprived of his episcopal rank and imprisoned unfairly. Images of the "Nicene miracle" are already known on the icons of the XII century.
Russian translation of the life, made in the XI century, contains a description of the miracle that happened in Kiev. Drowned by oversight in the Dnieper, the infant, after prayers of his parents to the Wonderworker, was found alive in the choir of St. Sophia Cathedral under the icon of St. Nicholas. Since then, this icon was considered miraculous and was called "Nikola Mokry", as the baby lay all wet, as if it had just been taken out of the water. Restoration studies conducted in the 1920-ies, showed that the icon of the "Nikola the Wet", which was kept in the cathedral, was written not earlier than the XIV century in Russia. Apparently, it was a venerable list from the original image. Unfortunately, during the Second World War this icon disappeared and was never found.
The history of another miraculous image of the saint is connected with Novgorod. Tradition says that the severely ill Novgorod prince Mstislav in a dream was Nicholas the Miracle-Worker and ordered to transport from Kiev to Novgorod his image executed on a board of round shape. On Ilmen-Lake prince ambassadors got into a storm and pestered to the island of Lipno, waiting for the weather to continue the journey. On the fourth day, they saw the icon of St. Nicholas that sailed along the waves, which exactly corresponded to the description. After the miraculous healing of the prince, the image was placed in the St. Nicholas Cathedral on Yaroslav's Court. Hence the name of the icon - "Nikola Dvorshchisky". Later on the island, where the image was found, the Lipensky Monastery of St. Nicholas was founded.
The icons of "Nikola of Mozhaisk" are known in Russia from the 15th century and repeat the iconography of the famous wonder-working wooden statue, famous for its protection of the city of Mozhaisk. According to legend, during the enemy raid the defenders of the city were the Mirlikian prelate. He was standing in the air above the cathedral, holding a sword raised in the sword in his right hand, and in the left - a model of a fortified wall of the temple enclosed. Frightened by the vision of the enemy fled, and the residents made a carved image of the saint. It is believed that this sculpture, dating from the end of the 14th century, is now kept in the Tretyakov Gallery.
On the origins of the iconography of such carved statues (and later icons) in science there are different opinions. It was supposed that this iconographic type became the development of the Old Russian tradition of the image of "Nikola Zaraysky". Some scholars considered such an iconography of the Romanesque, borrowed in Western Europe, where the image of a militant saint with a sword in his hand was distributed. The appearance of the image was also explained by the possible participation of Balkan masters in the construction of the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Mozhaisk in the 14th century. AVRyndina proposed a convincing version linking the appearance of this monument in Rus with the liturgical and ceremonial transformations of Metropolitan Cyprian and the Byzantine tradition of venerating relics. This version connects the origin of the carved images with the sculpture of the saint, invested by the Serbian King Urosh in the beginning of the XIV century in the basilica in Bari and intended to be placed above the shrine with relics.
The image of St. Nicholas, the holy warrior who defends the Orthodox city from foreigners, became especially popular in Russia, which was ravaged in the 15th and 16th centuries by raids and wars. The sword was interpreted both as a military weapon, and as a "spiritual sword, which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6: 17), to which sins should be eliminated. As the heavenly patron of the city, St. Nicholas defended the inhabitants from all sin and misfortune, both spiritual and physical.
Iconography, called "Nikola Zaraysky", was widely spread in Russia. On the icons of this type, the saint is portrayed in growth with his hands stretched out to the sides. He blesses the right, in the left holds the Gospel. Such a composite decision of the figure resembles the image of a praying (orant), widespread in Christian art.
According to "The Tale of Nicholas of Zaraisk", the image in 1225 was moved from Korsun to the territory of the Ryazan princedom, where he soon became famous for numerous miracles. During the devastating invasion of Batu on the Ryazan land, Prince Feodor was killed, and his wife, Princess Evpraksia, not wanting to fall into the hands of the Tatars, rushed from the tower and crashed - "contract to death." After the burial of the family near the icon of Nicholas Korsunsky, the image was called Zarazsky or Zaraisk, and the city was called Zaraysk.
Some of the images of Nicholas the Wonderworker created in Russia do not represent any separate, new iconography, radically different from the previous ones. These images fit perfectly into traditional image schemes. Having become famous for miracles, such icons received obscheusskuyu fame and individual names, usually associated with the place of acquisition. Found in the Vyatka region on the banks of the Great River, the icon was named "Nikola Velikoretsky", found in the Kaluga village Gostun - "Nikola Gostunsky".
Days of Memory: 9 May (Relocation of the relics), 29 July, 6 December
In the XI century, the Greek empire experienced a difficult time. The Turks devastated her possessions in Asia Minor, ravaged cities and villages, killing their inhabitants, and accompanied their cruelties by insulting holy temples, relics, icons and books. The Muslims attempted to destroy the relics of St. Nicholas, deeply revered by the whole Christian world.
In 792, Caliph Aharon Al Rashid sent the Chief of the Fleet Humaida to plunder the island of Rhodes. Devastating this island, Humaid went to the Myra of Lycia with the intention of breaking the tomb of St. Nicholas. But instead of it, he hacked another, standing next to the tomb of the prelate. Hardly the sacrilegious had time to do this, as a terrible storm had risen on the sea and almost all the ships were broken.
Desecration shocked not only Eastern, but Western Christians. Especially feared for the relics of St. Nicholas Christians in Italy, many of whom were Greeks. Residents of the city of Bari, located on the Adriatic coast, decided to save the relics of Saint Nicholas.
In 1087, bar and Venetian merchants traveled to Antioch for trade. Both of them assumed on the return journey to take the relics of Saint Nicholas and transport them to Italy. In this intention, the inhabitants of Bar ahead of the Venetians and first landed in the Worlds. Two people were sent forward, who, having returned, reported that everything was quiet in the city, and in the church where the greatest shrine rested, they met only four monks. Immediately 47 man, armed, went to the church of St. Nicholas, the guardian monks, not suspecting anything, pointed to a platform under which the tomb of a saint was hidden, where, according to custom, foreigners were anointed with the world from the relics of the saint. The monk told about the phenomenon on the eve of St. Nicholas to an old man. In this vision, the saint ordered to preserve his relics more carefully. This story inspired the Buryans; they saw for themselves in this phenomenon, the assent and, as it were, the instruction of the Holy One. To facilitate their actions, they opened their intentions to the monks and offered them a ransom - 300 gold coins. The watchman refused money and wanted to inform the inhabitants about the misfortune that threatened them. But the aliens tied them up and put their watchmen at the door. They broke the church platform, under which stood a tomb with relics. In this case, a special diligence distinguished the young man Matthew, who wanted to quickly find the relics of the prelate. In impatience, he broke the lid and the coffins saw that the sarcophagus was filled with a fragrant holy world. The compatriots of the barons, the elders of Lupp and Drogo, performed lithium, after which the same Matthew began to extract from the overcrowded sarcophagus the relics of the Holy Hierarch. This happened 20 April 1087 year.
In view of the absence of the ark, Presbyter Drogo wrapped his relics in his outer garments and, accompanied by the lads, carried them to the ship. The liberated monks informed the city of the sad news about the abduction by the foreigners of the relics of the Wonderworker. Crowds of people gathered on the beach, but it was too late ...
8 May the ships arrived in the Bar, and soon the joyous message flew around the whole city. The next day, 9 May, the relics of St. Nicholas solemnly transferred to the church of St. Stephen, which was near the sea. The celebration of the transfer of the shrine was accompanied by numerous miraculous healings of the sick, which aroused even greater reverence for the great saint of God. A year later a church was built in the name of St. Nicholas and was consecrated by Pope Urban II.
The event associated with the transfer of the relics of St. Nicholas, caused a special veneration of the Miracle-worker and was marked by the establishment of a special holiday 9 May. Initially, the feast of the transfer of the relics of St. Nicholas was celebrated only by the inhabitants of the Italian city of Bar. In other countries of the Christian East and West, he was not accepted, despite the fact that the transfer of the relics was widely known. This circumstance is explained by the custom of the middle centuries, the custom of honoring mainly local shrines. In addition, the Greek Church did not establish the celebration of this memory, because the loss of the relics of the Holy Hierarch was a sad event for her.
The Russian Orthodox Church celebrated the memory of the transfer of the relics of St. Nicholas from the World of Lycia to the Bar 9 in May, installed shortly after 1087 on the basis of a deep, already strengthened veneration of the Russian people by the great saint of God who had passed from Greece simultaneously with the adoption of Christianity. The glory of the miracles exhibited by the Holy Hierarch on land and at sea was widely known to the Russian people. Their inexhaustible strength and abundance testify to the special, blessed assistance of the great saint to the suffering humanity. The image of the prelate, the all-powerful Wonderworker-benefactor, became especially dear to the heart of the Russian man, because he instilled deep faith in him and the hope for his help. Countless miracles marked the faith of the Russian people in the unsurpassed help of God's Savior.
In the domestic literature, a considerable literature was compiled very early on. Tales of the miracles of the prelate, committed on Russian soil, began to be recorded in ancient times. Soon after the transfer of the relics of St. Nicholas from the World of Lycia to Bar Grad, a Russian version of the story appeared and a story about the transfer of his holy relics, written by a contemporary of this event. Even earlier, the word was commended to the Wonderworker. Every week, every Thursday, the Russian Orthodox Church is particularly honored by his memory.
В честь святителя Николая воздвигались многочисленные храмы и монастыри, русские люди называли его именем своих детей при Крещении. В России сохранились многочисленные чудотворные иконы великого Святителя. Наиболее известные среди них образ Можайский, Зарайский, Волоколамский, Угрешский, Ратный. Нет ни одного дома и ни одного храма в Русской Церкви, в котором не было бы образа святителя Николая Чудотворца. Значение благодатного предстательства великого угодника Божия выражает древний составитель жития, по словам которого святитель Николай "многа великая и преславная чудеса сотвори на земли и на мори, в бедах сущим помогая и от потопления спасая, и из глубины морския на сухо износя, от тления восхищая и принося в дом, от уз и темниц избавляя, от мечнаго посечения заступая и от смерти свобождая, многим многая подаде исцеления: слепым зрение, хромым хождение, глухим слышание, немым глаголание. Многих в убожестве и нищете последней страдающих обогати, гладным пищу подаде и всякому во всякой потребе готовый помощник, теплый заступник и скорый предстатель и защитник показася, и овым такожде призывающим его помогает и от бед избавляет. Весть великаго Чудотворца сего Восток и Запад и все концы земнии ведят чудотворения его". – Pravoslavie.Ru