My Patron Saint | Teen Ink

My Patron Saint

February 1, 2021
By Trial_Flame GOLD, Partlow, Virginia
Trial_Flame GOLD, Partlow, Virginia
11 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
I'm not special, I'm just limited edition.


Almost every American child has heard the story of Santa Claus, the jolly old man who spends most of the year in the North Pole, making gifts for children and getting ready to deliver them on Christmas Eve. They know of his red fur coat and his white beard, his eight reindeer that pull his flying sled over the clouds, and his giant book with the Naughty and Nice list. And, of course, they know of his obsession with milk and cookies and peppermint sticks. But what children don't know is that Santa Claus is based on a real person who lived thousands of years ago. Many youngsters may have asked their mothers, "Why is Santa sometimes called St. Nick?" And the mothers of these children would've answered, "Because Santa Claus is one of the incarnations of Saint Nicholas."

Long ago, a man named Theophanes and a woman named Nonna desperately wanted a child. For thirty years, they prayed and hope and waited, begging the Lord for a child. Finally, their prayers were answered, and in 280 in Patara, Lycia, Nonna gave birth to a healthy, happy baby boy. The child was lovingly named Nicholas, after his priest-uncle who had come to bless the newborn. As a boy, Nicholas was a devout Christian, spending his free time in the nearby monastery where his uncle, the same one who blessed him on his birth and shared his name, was the abbot. When not learning and practicing his faith in the monastery, Nicholas studied the standard subjects with the local teacher. With the monks, he learned philosophy, scripture, and theology. When Nicholas was still young, his parents caught the plague and died, leaving the teenager a large inheritance. He lived the rest of his teenage years with his abbot uncle.

During adulthood, Nicholas committed many miracles. Two of his most famous stories are the stories of the three poor maidens and the three lost children. In the story of the three poor maidens, Nicholas hears about the misfortune of a penniless man and his three daughters, who didn't have enough money for a dowry to give to potential husbands. In those days, if a woman didn't have a dowry, she wouldn't be able to marry. Nicholas decided to help them, and so on two separate nights, he threw a bag of gold through a window into the house. Both bags were used as dowries for the first two daughters, and they were soon married. The father, wondering who was delivering these bags, decided to hide and wait to see if another bag was delivered. When Nicholas threw the third and last bag into the house, the father came out and thanked Nicholas for his kind deed. Nicholas was embarrassed and didn't want to be known, telling the man not to tell anyone where he got his daughters' dowries from and to "Only thank the Lord our God for these miracles."

For the story of the three lost children, this takes place many years after the poor maidens, after Nicholas becomes a bishop and is known everywhere. The three children are separated from their parents and spend the day wandering throughout the village. Went night came, the children knocked on the door of the butcher, who invites them in and gives them meat and water. The children soon fell asleep, and the butcher took a sharp knife, cut them up, and put them in a salting tub. Seven years later, Nicholas visits the village where the children went missing and walks into the butcher shop. The butcher, overjoyed that Nicholas is visiting him, offers him a piece of meat, but Nicholas refused, saying he preferred the meat in the salting tub. Realizing Nicholas knew what he had done, the butcher ran away. Nicholas went to the salting tub, placed his hands upon it, and says, "Rise, children, for your parents are waiting for you." The children climbed out of the tub, completely unharmed, and were reunited with their parents.

Even though the Dutch knew the story of Saint Nicholas for thousands of years, it wasn't until the 1700s that Dutch immigrants brought the legend of Saint Nicholas, to them called Sint Nikolaas or Sinterklaas, to America. On December 6th, the feast day of Saint Nicholas, Dutch children put out their shoes the night before, filled with hay, turnips, and carrots for the saint's horses, and in the morning will check their shoes for gifts that Saint Nicholas left for them. The celebration of Saint Nicholas' feast day is the stepping stone for Santa Claus in America, Father Christmas in the UK, and Grandfather Frost in Russia.

The different symbols for St. Nicholas are the milter, a tall point hat that is worn by the bishop; the crozier, a hooked staff similar to a shepherd's staff, carried by the bishop; money bags, to represent the bags of gold thrown into the house for the three poor maidens; children, which makes sense since St. Nicholas is their patron saint; and finally, shoes filled with treats for his horse or shoes filled with gifts for children are symbols for Saint Nicholas' feast day.

An exciting fact about Saint Nicholas that happened not too long ago is this: An American priest owned a fragment of a pelvic bone that was believed to belong to Saint Nicholas. In 2017, a crew from the University of Oxford radiocarbon tested the pelvic bone and found that it dated from St. Nicholas's era. This means that it is very possible that the pelvic bone did belong to Saint Nicholas.

Out of all the saints in the world, I chose St. Nicholas because he has a special place in children's hearts. I grew up in a house full of children, and I tutored them during the fifth grade. When I grow up, I want to be a foster mother and take care of all the poor children with no families and no place to go. Since I obviously have a soft spot for the youngsters of the world, I couldn't help but think, "Why can't my confirmation saint be the patron saint for children?" Saint Nicholas loves and protects children, which is what I do for my little brother and, hopefully, for my future foster children. I hope that I can be loving, generous, and selfless, just like St. Nicholas. I may not be able to make dead people come to life, but I hope to transform the life of a child just the same.


The author's comments:

I'm sure the essay speaks for itself


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