Question 173:

Noel Baba (St Nicholas) is said to have lived in Antalya. Has he been moved to the North Pole after his death?


Answer: The St Nicholas who is remembered by the Latin Church on 6th December was, probably in the first half of the 4th century, the Bishop of Myra in Lykia, in present-day Turkey. The early reports of miracles in his biography, for which there are no confirming facts, are later supplemented by stories from the life of the Abbot of Sion or Myra and the Bishop of Pinora (died 10.12.564), who had the same name. The legendary Saint is therefore an amalgamation of two historic persons. Core of the Green legend surrounding Nicholas is the Stratelates miracle, the liberation of three imprisoned innocent knights, which laid the foundation of Nicholas becoming the patron saint for prisoners. The legendary rescue of shipwrecked seamen by Nicholas resulted in his patronage as rescuer of seafarers, which in 1087 resulted in the transfer of his relics from Myra to Bari. Another facet of the early legends is the secret gift of a gold coin each for three virgins to enable their marriages. Out of this grew not only the idea of St Nicholas as a giver of gifts, but also his dominant iconographic description by three golden balls. In many places the Bishop Nicholas has been replaced by Father Christmas as the giver of gifts.

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