Advent: December 6th
Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent; Optional Memorial of St. Nicholas, Bishop
Mass Propers of St. Nicholas:
Entrance Antiphon, Cf. Ez 34:11, 23-24:
I will look after my sheep, says the Lord, and I will appoint a shepherd to pasture them, and I, the Lord, will be their God.
Alleluia Verse, Lk 4:18:
The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor and to proclaim liberty to captives.
Communion Antiphon, Cf. Jn 15:16:
It was not you who chose me, says the Lord, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.
Today the Church celebrates the Optional Memorial of St. Nicholas of Myra. Not much is known about this 4th century bishop, but that doesn't diminish his popularity around the world, both in the East and West. It is known that Nicholas was born in Lycia in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) and died in 352 A.D. as the Bishop of Myra. All the stories that surround Nicholas illustrate that he practiced both the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. He was generous, strove to help the poor and disadvantaged, and worked tirelessly to defend the faith. His legends of generosity and a slip of the tongue from other languages has made St. Nicholas or Sinterklaas into today's Santa Claus.
St. Nicholas of Myra
Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra, is undoubtedly one of the most popular saints honored in the Western world. In the United States, his memory has survived in the unique personality of Saint Claus — the jolly, rotund, white-bearded gentleman who captivates children with promises of gifts on Christmas Eve. Considered primarily as the patron saint of children, Nicholas is also invoked by sailors, merchants, bakers, travelers and pawnbrokers, and with Saint Andrew is honored as the co-patron of Russia.
Often Portrayed As: Bishop with three children in a tub at his feet; Bishop calming a storm; bishop holding three balls; bishop holding three bags of gold; bishop with three children.Highlights and Things to Do:
- Often people connect the stories of Santa Claus with St. Nicholas. This story of the origin of Santa Claus is one version of this story.
- St. Nicholas Center is a website compendium of all things—books, plays, music, crafts, legends, stories, games, recipes, prayers, etc.—St. Nicholas.
- Read the Italian history of St. Nicholas of Bari, ancestor of Santa Claus.
- Choose some of the recommended activities — a puppet show, a party, a visit from "St. Nicholas." Make sure to include in all the activities the story of St. Nicholas, virtues to imitate, and his significance in the Advent season. Read how different countries Celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas.
- St. Nicholas is a popular saint the world over, and his relics can be found in various places, including one of his arms in the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Fribourg, Switzerland.
- To enhance your feasting, purchase a copy of the CD by the Anonymous 4 Legends of St. Nicholas. This is medieval music, all in honor of St. Nicholas, recorded by four female vocalists.
- There are numerous recipes to enhance this feast, anything from a soup to dessert, so have fun in the kitchen trying different ones.
- St. Nicholas did his charitable works secretly. Suggest that your children do one hidden act of kindness in imitation of the saint.
- From the Netherlands we have the most popular recipe, speculaas (or St. Nicholas Cookies; Speculaus; Speculatius; Kris Kringle Cookies; Dutch spice cookies). You can find tips for using special speculaas cookie molds by Gene Wilson. Try these sites for St. Nicholas Cookie cutters or molds: House on the Hill, Rycraft, and St. Nicholas Center. You could also use Nativity Cookie Cutters, like these from Cookie Craft.