Who was St Nicholas?
4th Century Bishop of Myra.
Born in Asia Minor, modern day Turkey.
He was the only child of wealthy parents, who both died of illness when he was young.
He went to live with his Uncle, whose name was Nicholas, who was the Bishop of Patara.
St Nicholas was very devout, took his Christian faith very seriously, and when he was young he fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays every week!
He ordained priest by his uncle and later made a bishop of Myra.
Patron Saint of:
Bargemen, children, sailors, merchants and repentant thieves!
Traditions about St Nicholas:
He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him.
Hearing of the plight of three girls too poor to get married, St Nicholas decided to help them, but being too modest to help the family in public (or to save them the humiliation of accepting charity), he went to the house under the cover of night and threw three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the house.
Boy Bishop Tradition:
In late medieval England, on Saint Nicholas' Day parishes held Yuletide "boy bishop" celebrations. As part of this celebration, youths performed the functions of priests and bishops, and exercised rule over their elders! This is why in Alcester, on St Nicholas Night, you will see the "Boy Bishop" with our local clergy, being honoured by taking pride of place in his chariot in our procession. King for a day? Well, Bishop anyway!