St. Nicholas Monuments in Ireland
St. Nicholas is found in many places besides churches. In Ireland his symbols are often seen on pawn shops.
In the early 14th century montes pietatius, precursors to today’s pawn shops, were established by Franciscan friars, to helping the poor. They gave low-interest loans to poor families so they could buy food. The Franciscans alone started 150 montes pietatius. In 1514 Pope Julius II gave an edict endorsing montes pietatius, as they provided necessary support to European peasants. Because St. Nicholas had generously provided help to the man who needed dowries for his daughters, he was recognized for his generosity and concern for the poor and became the patron saint of the montes pietarius, and pawn brokers to this day. St. Nicholas gold balls are the universal symbol for pawn brokers.
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St. Nicholas gold balls hang outside these two Dublin pawnshops: Carthy Pawnbroking and John Brereton Pawnbrokers.