St Nicholas of Myra Parish Penrith


Saint Nicholas of Myra - Our Patron Saint

St Nicholas of Myra
The St Nicholas of Myra icon in the Parish church in Penrith - specially commissioned in 1988, shown holding the present day church.
Nicholas was born in Patera, a city of Lycia in Asia Minor, in about 270 AD. He was still young when his parents died and left him a fortune.

As a teenager, Nicholas’ humility was already self-evident. He had heard about a family that was destitute and starving. The father had no money for food, much less the dowry needed to marry off his three daughters. He was ready to send the eldest into the streets to earn a living as a prostitute.

Under the cover of night, Nicholas threw a bag of gold coins through the window of their humble dwelling. In the morning the father discovered the gold. His daughter was saved. How he rejoiced! Nicholas did the same for the other daughters.

Nicholas then forsook all his money to answer the call to ministry. He became Bishop of Myra (modern day Demre) at a very early age and was destined to lead his congregation through the brutal persecution of the Roman emperor, Diocletian. Thrown into jail, Nicholas survived the various tortures, never forsaking his belief in Jesus as Lord. He was released when the emperor Constantine came to power (around 314). He served God’s people for another 30 years.

Nicholas participated in the Council of Nicea (325), which promulgated, among other things, the Nicene Creed that we say at Mass. During the Council, he is reputed to have broken the jaw of one of the Council participants who argued that Jesus was not God.

He died on 6 December 343, and was buried in Myra. Later, his remains were transferred to Bari (Italy), an important seaport at the time. For this reason, St Nicholas is the patron saint of seafarers.

Principally, Nicholas is best known for his generosity to children, and is often seen as patron saint of children. In many countries, 6 December (also his Feast Day) is celebrated with the exchange of presents leaving Christmas to be a religious event.

Nicholas is patron of seafarers, scholars, bankers, pawnbrokers, jurists, brewers, coopers, travelers, perfumers, unmarried girls, brides, robbers and especially children.

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