St. Nicholas, patron saint of the Occupy movement?

by Joshua J. McElwee

As different faith groups respond to the Occupy movement, Tom Beaudoin, at America magazine, asked the question, Where are all the Catholics?" Joshua McElwee replies at the National Catholic Reporter, suggesting St. Nicholas as a particularly appropriate patron saint for Occupy. A new group, Occupy Catholics, have organized a novena to St. Nicholas in support of the occupy movement until the saint's feast day, Dec. 6.

Bronze statue with gold balls
Sankt Nikolaus, Nikolauskirche, Ebermannstadt, Germany,
Photo: Immanuel Giel
Wikimedia Commons

The [Occupy Catholics] organizers calling forth of Nicholas may be particularly appropriate. A fourth century saint, Nicholas is of course most remembered as the inspiration for Santa Claus because of his gifting of coins in shoes.

But Nicholas was also dedicated to helping the poor. Legends hold that he once threw gold coins into the window of a poor family and [he also] saved three falsely accused people from execution.

He also is interestingly said to have had something of a violent moment during the council of Nicea in AD 325.

At that council, Arius, an early theologian who would later be deemed a heretic, was invited to speak to explain his understanding of the relationship between God the Father and Christ the Son. Proclaiming "there was a time when Christ was not," Arius taught that Christ had not existed before God the Father created him at some point in history.

Listening to Arius describe his position, Nicholas is said to have walked across the chamber and slapped Arius in the face.

The incident briefly cost Nicholas his role as bishop of Myra.

So, maybe he's not the perfect saint for the occupy movement. But who is? Anyone feel like joining in prayer this week?

By Joshua J. McElwee, "National Catholic Reporter", National Catholic Reporter, NCR Today, December 2, 2011. Used by permission.

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