St. Nicholas

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Bishop Nicholas
December 2

by Christine Natale

Gentle stories in the Waldorf tradition for the days before St. Nicholas Day, December 6

December 1 – The Little Boy Nicholas
December 2 – Bishop Nicholas
December 3 – Bishop Nicholas and the Family
December 4 – The Girl and the Wolf
December 5 – Bishop Nicholas and Rupert
December 6 – Saint Nicholas and Knecht Rupert
St Nicholas and the Sea
Illus. by Emile Probst from The Life of Saint Nicholas by Verena Smith, Burns & Oates, 1966
St Nicholas Center Collection

When Nicholas grew to be a young man, he decided to go to a big city across the sea. There was a great university where he could learn many things about the world and also about God. So he packed his trunks and signed aboard a ship. He went down into the little room below the ship's deck and sat down for a long talk with God. He was so busy that he didn't even notice that soon after they left the port, a storm arose at sea. At noon the rain was pelting the ship and its crew. But when it was close to evening, the waves were so high and the storm so fierce that even the captain gave up hope. The sailors were running around helplessly. Some were crying and some were praying, for surely the ship would soon break in two and they would all drown in the sea. The captain shouted down below to Nicholas, "What are you doing down there? Don't you see that we are all about to drown?"

"Oh?" said Nicholas, "Let us see about that." And he came up to the deck and knelt down to pray. He told the sailors to kneel down with him on the rolling deck. The captain shouted, "Man, we are past praying for!"

"Nothing is ever past praying for!" Nicholas shouted back over the roar of the storm.

And while they were asking God to help them, the rain lessened and the wind died down. The waves grew calmer and in a little while, the clouds parted. The evening sun burst through in a blaze of fire. The ship sailed safely into harbor and the sailors thanked Nicholas and promised to remember what he taught them. Even to this day, sailors in many parts of the world whittle small ships of wood and hang them up in their church when they arrive safely home after a voyage, in honor of the good Nicholas.*

*  *  *  *  *

So Nicholas arrived safely at the big school where he learned a great deal about men and about God. When he finished his studies, he returned to his own city as a priest. A priest is someone who takes care of many people for God. He taught the people of the city about God and Heaven and he helped them in every way that he could. He brought food to the hungry and medicine to the sick. He carried firewood in the winter to poor widows. He collected warm clothing from those who had much and gave to those who had little. He still had a great deal of money of his own and he spent most of it to give people what they needed.

Red Waldorf St Nikolaus
Sankt Nikolaus made by Annemarie Luithardt, Korb, Germany
St Nicholas Center Collection

Nicholas was such a good priest, that they made him a bishop. A bishop is a leader and teacher of other priests and of people in a large area. In those days, bishops wore special clothes so that people could recognize them where ever they went. Bishop Nicholas wore a golden miter, which is a tall round cap, and a white robe and long red cloak. He carried a tall staff, rounded at the top like a shepherd's crook and he often had a heavy sack of good things slung over his shoulder when out visiting his people. He also had great big pockets sewn into his cloak to hold cookies and oranges and other sweet things to give to the dear children that he met on his way. He loved the children most of all. He always seemed to know everything about them, especially whether they were good and loving, or not.

When ever he came upon a boy who felt angry and who liked to fight, he would tell him stories of the Archangel Michael and how he used his strength to fight only evil dragons. He might give the boy an apple to help him remember to fight only evil.

Sometimes he would meet a little girl whose face shone with joy. This joy came from the happiness in her heart when she was helping her mother take care of her younger sister. Nicholas would pull a sugar cookie out of his pocket and tell the girl " You are as sweet as this cookie."

*  *  *  *  *

One day, Bishop Nicholas saw a little girl sitting on her own doorstep, her chin in her hands. She looked lonely and she felt lonely, too. Bishop Nicholas knew this little girl. He knew very well that she was the cause of her own loneliness. Sad to say, she was very selfish and would not share any of her toys or sweets. If something good was being given out, she would cry until she got the biggest piece. She would pout and refuse to play games with the other children unless she was allowed to win. The other children had grown weary of her and they left her alone. She was sad, but stubborn too, and she would not change her ways.

Bishop Nicholas was sorry for her, but he knew that if she did not change, her life would be like a dark room without light and joy. So he reached deep into his pocket and pulled out a big, round, shining orange. He held it out to the little girl and as she reached for it, he said, "This orange shines just like a little sun. When the beautiful sun shines in the sky, it shines on everyone, yes? And it warms everyone on the earth—no one more and no one less. So, everyone loves the sun and everyone feels full of joy when ever they see him."

"You can be like the sun, too. Just give your love to everyone, then you will fill other people's hearts with love. This shining orange will help you remember what it feels like to share your good things with others. It tastes sweet like sunshine and like love."

The little girl looked into Bishop Nicholas' kind eyes and took the orange from his hand. She did not feel dark and lonely inside anymore. She felt happy and sunny. When she ate the sweet orange, she realized how sweet it could be to share. She took her favorite dolly to the little girl who lived next door and held it out to her. The neighbor girl wrapped it in one of her own dolly blankets. They began to play house and took turns being the mother, father and child. They had so much fun that it seemed too soon when her mother came to find her. She went home for dinner happily and at dessert, she slipped a little extra bit of cake to her baby brother. She couldn't help laughing when he squealed with delight. It was not long before she had lots of dear friends and every one called her "Little Sunshine."


The other stories in this series

December 1 – The Little Boy Nicholas
December 3 – Bishop Nicholas and the Family
December 4 – The Girl and the Wolf
December 5 – Bishop Nicholas and Rupert
December 6 – Saint Nicholas and Knecht Rupert

By Christine Natale, who used them in her Waldorf kindergarten   Used by permission.

* This portion of the story is adapted from Ten Saints by Eleanor Farjeon, Oxford University Press, 1936

 Musings on Saint Nicholas or How to Play Saint Nicholas
by Christine Natale


Fairy Tales by Christine Natale, Straw Into Gold Press, 2010. A collection of fifteen original fairy tales, 3-4 for each season, gentle stories created for Waldorf kindergarten.

Purchase from amazon.com or amazon.uk.


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