Saint Nicholas: Bishop of Myra
Friend of Children
For younger children
Choosing Byzantine images for the miter, staff and saint makes the story appropriate for Orthodox and Eastern Rite settings.
This simple introduction to Saint Nicholas gives opportunity to discover connections to Santa Claus.
Wondering questions may be modified as appropriate for your group. A more complex and detailed version for older children is here.
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A long time ago, in a country far away, lived a man who loved God very much.
His name was Nicholas. When he was a boy his parents told him about Jesus. Nicholas wanted to live the way Jesus taught.
When Nicholas was a teenager a terrible sickness came to his town. Many people died including his parents. Nicholas went to live with his uncle who was a bishop in the church. His uncle taught him more about God.
Nicholas' parents were rich and after they died, Nicholas was rich, too. Nicholas decided to do what Jesus said, to "sell all you have and give to the poor."
There was a man who had three daughters. The man lost his job and had no money to buy food or to care for his daughters. The daughters were old enough to get married, but they had no dowry—money and other things to give to a future husband. To save them all from starving, the father decided to sell his daughters to be slaves. It would be terrible to be a slave.
|Place coin card on underlay ||Nicholas heard about the man and his daughters. One night Nicholas crept up to the man's house and tossed a bag of gold coins through the window. Two more times Nicholas secretly tossed bags of coins into the man's house. Because of Nicholas' generous gifts the daughters didn't become slaves. All three daughters married good men.|
|Place bishop's miter card on underlay ||Early one morning Nicholas came to church. Many bishops were there to choose a new bishop. The oldest bishop had dreamed that the first person to come that morning would be named "Nicholas" and he should be the new bishop. At first Nicholas said he was too young, but the bishops said it was what God wanted. So Nicholas became bishop in the city of Myra.|
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Nicholas loved everyone and many stories tell how he helped people—especially those who were small or in danger. Bishop Nicholas was so loved by everyone that after he died they called him 'Saint Nicholas.'
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All around the world children hang up stockings or put out shoes before St. Nicholas' Day, which is December 6th. When they get up the next morning, children run to look in their stockings or shoes, hoping to find little treats and surprises from St. Nicholas.
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I wonder why Nicholas sold everything he had to help the poor . . . ?
I wonder why Nicholas gave his gifts in secret . . . ?
I wonder who Nicholas would help now . . . ?
I wonder how we could be like Nicholas . . . how to care for others like Nicholas did . . . ?
I wonder if children love Saint Nicholas . . . ?
I wonder if Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus are the same . . . ?
Purple felt underlay, 12-inch square
Object cards, print on cardstock from St. Nicholas Memory Game, laminate both sides for durability
Second Shelf Suggestions
Books and stories about St Nicholas
And Now We Call Him Santa Claus by Kay Tutt, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1963
Life of Saint Nicholas by Verena Smith, illustrated by Emile Probst, Barns & Oates, 1966
St. Nicholas Promise Card (from The Saints: 21 Models for Good Living by Francine O'Connor, Pflaum, 2000
Map showing where Nicholas lived and traveled
Orange sections or Clementines (talk about oranges & gold balls as symbols for the gold Nicholas gave)
St. Nicholas cookies
Gold wrapped chocolate coins
St. Nicholas breads
Please send us your comments and suggestions.
By Carol Myers, St. Nicholas Center. With appreciation to Willa Brown, Associate for Children's Ministry, Reformed Church in America, for her very helpful suggestions. Copyright © 2005, 2010.