People of Faith:
Saint Nicholas of Myra

An activity for middle schoolers

St Nicholas filling money bags
© 2009 Saint Mary's Press/Illustration by Vicki Shuck

Sometimes Santa Claus is called Saint Nick. Why? Saint Nicholas, sometimes known as Saint Nick, was a fourth-century bishop of Myra, in Asia Minor. He was holy and lived simply. He used his family's wealth for the needs of others. When invaders captured Myra in the eleventh century, his remains were moved to Bari, which today is located in southern Italy. These are the facts we know for sure about his life.

Many stories of his generosity have come down to us. One story tells of the daughters of a poor family who needed money to get married. He left a purse of gold for each of them. A legend says he brought three children back to life after an evil butcher had murdered them. He gathered food for children and adults who were starving.

Such stories led to the custom of giving gifts in the name of Nicholas. We do it at Christmas. Some people do it on December 6, Nicholas' feast day. Still others do it on the Epiphany, when the Magi brought gifts to Jesus. Nicholas reminds us to use our talents and wealth to help those in need.

Can you find five (or more) unique elements that are clues to identify this saint?

St. Nicholas filling bags
Fill in the blanks
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Illustration by Vicki Shuck and text from The Catholic Connections Handbook for Middle Schoolers, by Claussen, Finan, Macalintal, Shepherd, Stark, and Wardwell. Copyright © 2009 by Saint Mary's Press, Winona, Minnensota. People of Faith Puzzle, with seven other saints, is also from Saint Mary's Press. Both used by permission.

The Handbook is a guide to following Jesus and a companion to the Bible, with church teachings about God, prayer, the church, sacraments, and Christian ethics; twenty-two people of faith are included. Purchase from, or

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