The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century, on what is now, the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need.
Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals; murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, (a clear watery liquid which smells like rose water) formed in his grave. This substance was believed to be a miraculous source of healing. The anniversary of his death, known as St. Nicholas Day, became a day of celebration, where many, especially in Europe, celebrate by filling shoes with candy and toys left out the night before. Learn more about this great saint at the St. Nicholas Center. (Information excerpted from stnicholascenter.org)