Religious Figure. He was probably born in Patara, a province of Asia Minor which is present day Turkey. He was born to wealthy parents who raised him to be a devout Christian. They died while he was very young and he gave his entire inheritance to help the poor, the sick, and the suffering. Dedicating his whole life to serving God, he was made Bishop of Myra, the capital city of Lycia, while still a very young man. So many miracles were performed by him that he was also known as Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. Santa Claus is the name we now commonly know him by which evolved from his reputation of secret gift giving. The Roman Catholic Church never officially canonized him, his reputation simply evolved among the faithful. His early Christian activities occurred during the reign of the Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian who persecuted Christians. Nicholas and so many other Christians were thrown into prison that soon there was no room for the thieves, murderers and other real criminals. After his release from prison he attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. He lived to an old age and died peacefully in his own bed in Myra and was originally buried there in his cathedral church. It is said that a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance was supposed to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, Saint Nicholas Day. The Christian world was afraid that access to his tomb could be lost because of the many wars and attacks in the region. In the year 1087 sailors from Bari, Italy succeeded in transporting his bones to the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari. He was so highly revered that over 2000 churches throughout the world have been named after him. He is the patron saint of children, sailors, fishermen, the falsely accused, pawnbrokers, prostitutes, repentant thieves, many cities, and the list goes on into the hundreds.
Bio by: Tom Todd