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Patron saint: Bishop Nicholas of Myra

St. Nicholas was born in Patra in 280 or 286, 60 kilometres from the coastal town of Myra, Asia Minor, where later he became bishop. December 6th, St. Nicholas's feast day, is thought to be the day of his death in 351. Later, legends grew up around his birth and his election as bishop, which confirmed his reputation as a man chosen by God. While he was bishop, Nicholas worked particularly to help children and young people. He is said to have rescued a small child from bath of boiling water and to have raised three travelling scholars from the dead after a greedy landlord killed and salted them (that this legend was first recorded in France in the 12th century indicates the eastern saint had a growing reputation in the west by this time). Nicholas is also said to have helped a poor family who planned to sell their three daughters to a house of ill-repute. By throwing three golden balls or apples through the window, he provided them with their dowries and so enabled the girls to make respectable marriages. In another story he appeared to the Emperor Constantine in a dream and asked for the release of three commanders, who, though innocent, had been sentenced to death by the Emperor, in doing so saved their lives.
 



Nicholas of Myra - russian icon
St. Nicholas has a special following among sailors because he prevented several shipwrecks, for example while he was on his  way to the Council of Nicea in 325. Once, during a great famine, he asked the Roman ships that transported grain to give some to the people and promised that by a divine miracle their holds would be full again when they landed in the capital Constantinople. As legend has it, when the saint died healing oil flowed out of his coffin; in 1087 merchants took the body to Bari, where, to this day, oil, the so-called »Manna di S. Nicola«, is still reputed to be flowing.


In the following centuries merchants and sailors all over Europe have venerated him as their patron saint, built churches dedicated to him everywhere, incl. the seaport and merchant town of Flensburg. The memory of St. Nicholas as the friend of children is still very much alive and children look forward to St. Nicholas'Day every year. At St. Nikolai's we remember the saint in special services or with concerts like that of 2002, when Benjamin Britten's »Saint Nicholas Cantata« was performed.


St. Nicholas devotes himself to the impoverished:
the hungry, the children, the sailors. Bronze sculpture at South chapel wall
by Flensburg artist Uwe Appold, 1990 (derived from a 1968 design)