12.09.2011

St. Nicholas of Myra, Bishop and Confessor

This past week was my name day, and therefore I was inspired to draw this picture depicting a dramatic episode from the life of St. Nicholas. Most people think of St. Nicholas as a jolly old elf of a bishop who gave presents to poor children. The REAL St. Nicholas was a much more interesting and militant character.

St. Nicholas, as Bishop of Myra, was summoned by Blessed Emperor Constantine to the Council of Nicæa, the First Ecumenical Council. At the council, Arius was called upon to explain his heretical views, and thus he started preaching before Council Fathers. St. Nicholas listened as Arius attacked the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Crhist, becoming more and more full of righteous anger. Finally he became so enraged that he charged at Arius and struck the heretic a mighty blow! Some accounts say it was a "slap" others a "punch". I went with the punch as it's more dramatic and more in keeping with the righteous anger the great saint must have felt in the face of insults to Our Lord.

Unfortunately, the assemblage of Bishops blamed St. Nicholas for the altercation. He was expelled from the Council and the Emperor had him stripped of his Episcopal vestments and thrown in prison. That night, our the Lord appeared to the Emperor and demanded that he free and reinstate St. Nicholas, for his only motive in attacking Arius had been his all-consuming love of Him. The Emperor obeyed at once. When the jailor went to release St. Nicholas, the Saint was found sitting in his cell clothed in his Episcopal vestments, reading the Gospels. He related that our Blessed Lord and Lady had appeared to him, our Lord giving him the book of the Gospels (one of the symbols of the Episcopal Office) and our Lady restoring to him his vestments. He was restored to his rightful place at the Council, which proceeded to side with him against Arius, utterly condemning the Arian heresy and composing the Nicæan Creed to protect the Orthodoxy of the Faithful.

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