Historical Figures

Nicholas of Myra (approx. 270 - December 6, 345 or 352)

Nicholas of Mira (photo:public domain)

Nicholas of Myra (approx. 270 - December 6, 345 or 352) - saint Catholic and Orthodox, bishop. The first mentions of Saint Nicholas appear only in the 6th century CE, during the reign of Emperor Justinian. According to legend, he lived at the turn of the 3rd and 4th centuries CE, he performed the episcopal ministry in Mir and was to participate in the first ecumenical council (held in Nicaea; Arius was condemned there), his contemporaries do not mention him.

The first known records mention the existing cult of Nicholas (he was buried in the basilica and pilgrims prayed at his grave). He was considered a martyr. The first life mentioning the bishop of Mira dates back to the 9th century in Byzantium. Its author provides information that the saint was the only child of wealthy parents and was modest from an early age, avoiding entertainment. When he inherited his family's fortune, he gave it to the needy. When he became a bishop, he fought against paganism and the adherents of Arianism.

In Poland, the cult of the saint became home thanks to Queen Rycheza, wife of Mieszko II. The ruler, related to the Byzantine emperors, took her attachment to the bishop of Mira, fashionable at the court in Constantinople, from her grandmother, Theophano. Only with the arrival of Rycheza on the Vistula River does the cult of Nicholas begin and churches dedicated to him arise from its foundation.

The saint's remains are likely to be found in the basilica of Bari in southern Italy, where Queen Bona is also buried. In 1087, the Barry took the relics of the saint from Mira to his homeland, which later became the center of his cult.

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