Christmas in July: Portrait of Saint Nicholas
Nicholas was a boy born into a wealthy and religious family – a combination that led him to a life of purpose - blessing others with what he’d been given. Commercialized and exaggerated, his legacy became the Santa Claus character that has branded the Christmas season, but in reality, he was simply a remarkable saint named Nicholas.
He was born in the early 4th century in the city of Patara, located in what is now Turkey. Both his parents died of an epidemic when he was very young, but in the midst of tragedy, his faith remained unshaken. In wake of his parents’ death, he began serving the poor, the sick, and the needy in his hometown and other towns nearby.
Nicholas took to Christianity at a very early age. It is said that he fasted every Wednesday and Friday. After his parents’ death, his uncle, also named Nicholas, raised him, training him to become a priest. According to legend, Nicholas took the place of the bishop of Myra, following his death. The people of Myra had prayed for the bishop’s replacement. They said that the first man to enter the church the next morning would be him. Nicholas was that man.
A true follower of Jesus, Nicholas’ life was a reflection of whom he worshipped. One of the most well known stories about him was that he paid the dowries of three young girls. This was a big deal, because during that time, if a father couldn’t give his girls a dowry, they would usually become prostitutes in a desperate attempt to support themselves. It was said that he threw gold-filled bags into their windows.
Obviously, deeds like this one were what painted the picture of Santa Claus - a father figure, leaving secret gifts of love and provision for his children on the eve of Christ’s birth.
The Roman emperor, Diocletian, ruthlessly persecuted Christians threw Nicholas into prison, along with other bishops and priests. A myriad of memories have been passed down the generations about the extraordinary compassion and generosity of Saint Nick.
This piece from Le Louvre French Antiques is a wonderful memorial to Saint Nicholas. It is a piece that you can keep out on display, even in July, as it depicts him as the humble man he truly was, rather than as a jolly, seasonal cartoon. The statue is carved into antique fruitwood. Fruitwood can be the wood of any type of fruit tree: apple, cherry, pear, etc. This particular statue dates back to the late 1700s, early 1800s and came from France. To inquire or make an offer to our partners at Le Louvre French Antiques, click here.
Happy Latiquing to all…and to all a good night!