by St. Anslem (1033–1109), Archbishop of Canterbury
This intercessory prayer reveals the profound intimacy and supplication to St. Nicholas of Myra. It may have been written around 1090 when a relic of Saint Nicholas was translated from Bari, Italy, to Bec Abbey, Le Bec-Hellouin, Normandy, France, where Anselm was Abbot at the Benedictine order.
Holy card: France, 1840
St Nicholas Center Collection
Give me, Lord, Nicholas as my intercessor, your great confessor whom you had glorified with the name of blessed throughout the world.
Saint Nicholas, I pray to you through him who has made your name venerated throughout the world; do not refuse to help a needy suppliant.
Why, Sir, are you called upon by all men in all the world unless you are to be an advocate of all who pray to you?
Why does this sound in all ears, "My Lord, Saint Nicholas," "My Lord, Saint Nicholas," unless it means, "My advocate, Saint Nicholas," "My advocate Saint Nicholas?"
Why is your name poured forth everywhere except that the world may have some great good poured into it?
Your fame calls to me, your miracles send me to your intercession, your works draw me to seek your help.
But why do I speak about your miracles, when your power now is greater than them all?
Why do I recount what you have done, when before God you now have supreme grace? Why recount the help that you gave to many when you are able to give spiritual help now that you live in heaven, of more value than the corporal help that you gave during your pilgrimage upon earth?
For it is not as if you were able to do those things then and can no longer do them. No, I say, you could not have power only in those things that come to nothing, and to be powerless in those that go on into eternity.
Indeed, you did not only accomplish the former, you did not ascend merely that you might grant them. Bestow upon us the spiritual things in which you glory, the joys of eternity in which you rejoice, pour upon us the heavenly things to which you have turned. Through you we needy ones come to know that abundance which you receive fully in a perpetual stream.
O your plenitude of goodness, and my abundance of badness!
How far they are from each other!
How vehemently the first makes you happy, how greatly does the latter make me unhappy.
The first comes down from the plenitude of God, the latter goes up from the need of myself;
The first flows from the abundance of God, the latter surges up from my poverty.
O if only that super-abundance would overflow and flood into my abundant ills!
O if only that full plenitude would fill the emptiness of my need!
I do not doubt, Sir, that you can do this for me, if you are willing to ask that much for me of my judge who is your beloved friend.
—Saint Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (1093–1109), Doctor of the Church; born at Aosta Lombardy, Italy, died 21 April, 1109.back to prayers