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Saint Nicolaos

Saint Nikolaos (Nicholas) is on of the most well known and beloved out of the Fathers and Saints of our Church.  The countless churches that were built in his honour and the millions of Christians that bear his name substantiate this fact.

People of the sea and sailors pay special tribute and have special reverence for him, having him as their Patron Saint.  The miracles that he has performed at sea, in order to save the lives of those that were or are in danger, are countless. 

Our Church honours him with the best of praises; and he deserves every honour and praise because throughout his life he was the incarnation of love and philanthropy.  He was a champion advocate of the Church.  A role model for all those seeking the salvation of their soul.

Saint Nikolaos was born in Patara of the Lycia region in Asia Minor around 250 AD.  His parents were pious and enlightened people with a very good financial status.  After they first got acquainted with the teachings of our Christ, they transmitted to young Nikolaos the love of God and piety.  Then they also provided him with social and literal education.

At a very young age he looses both parents and remains an orphan in a world where paganism and sin prevailed.  In his hands he has a large fortune to manage.  A fortune which -in spite of his young age -he does not squander but instead uses for charity and handouts. 

The Christians admire him and beg God to make him worthy of becoming a priest.  He also has a personal inclination towards priesthood.  So, the -at that time -Archbishop of Lycia and uncle of Nikolaos, appreciating his virtues and his faith, ordains him as a priest of the Diocese. 

He travels to the Holy Land where he decides to stay for the sake of tranquillity.  There is a tradition reporting that he came to Cyprus where along with Saint Eftychios they constructed the Priests' Monastery in Pafos.  He remained in Cyprus for three years.

However, an Angel of the Lord orders him to return to his homeland.  Coming back to Patara, he becomes a monk in the Monastery of Zion in Myra of Lycia, also serving there as a Prior.  Later on, when the metropolitan Bishop of Myra died, the bishops and other clergymen -with Divine Guidance -elect him as Archbishop of Myra.  Being in this position he establishes hospitals, poorhouses, hostels, and other foundations, always practising the work of charity.

During the persecutions by the emperors Dioklitianos and Maximianos (286-305 AD), he defends his faith with valence and as a result he is persecuted and exiled.  After Constantine the Great ascended to the throne the 1st Ecumenical Council is held in Nikaia (Nicea) in 325 AD so as to find a solution for the problem of Arianism.  Saint Nikolaos is amongst the Fathers of the Church that participate.  In this Council Saint Spyridon performs the known miracle of the tile, which separated into three elements: earth, water, and fire, thus proving the triune nature of God.

Arius characterises the miracle as demonic and then Saint Nikolaos got up and slapped him in a fit of sacral anger.  This resulted in the imprisonment of the Saint.

There he is visited by the Christ Himself along with the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Christ sets him free and hands him a Gospel while the Virgin Mary gives him the scapular of the High Priest.  Arius is condemned as a heretic and the Saint returns to Myra.

He continues the remainder of his life doing countless deeds of charity, performing vigils, fasting, and praying until the 6th of December, when he ascends close to the Lord that he had loved so much.

His remains were transferred from Myra of Lycia to Bari of Italy -where they are kept until today -in 1807 AD.

Saint Nikolaos also receives special love and veneration here in Cyprus.  Thus, we find throughout the entire island about 100 churches dedicated to his name.  One of them is the church of the small community of "Tsakkistra", only a few kilometres from the monastery of Kykkos.

The church of this mountainous village, dedicated to the "maritime" Saint, dates back to around 1500 AD.  It has beautiful frescoes, which soon are going to be fastened and cleaned.  It also has a priceless reliquary bearing the remains of Saint Philip, Saint Paraskevi, and other Saints.  For this reason, the renovators of this church deserve every praise.







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