adapted from the German by Kathleen Pearce
The most important saint in the Advent season is St Nicholas. His feast day is kept on the 6th December. Nicholas was a kind and generous man who shared all he possessed. He was especially kind to people who were poor and starving. The custom of giving presents at Christmas comes from St Nicholas.
He was the bishop of Myra, when his country suffered a great famine. The harvest that year was bad, and food from the previous year had been used up. A storm had destroyed all the grain and the vegetables in the fields. The people were starving. Everyday they came to Nicholas in the hope that he would give them something to eat. He helped them as best he could, but soon he had nothing else to give away.
One day a big ship sailed into the harbour of Myra: on board the ship was a large cargo of grain and other food. When Nicholas heard of this he hurried to the ship to buy some supplies. The captain refused to sell him food.
"I cannot sell you anything," he said. "I must deliver the entire cargo to my master. If only one sack is missing he will punish me severely."
Illustration by Martina Spinková
From Our Colourful Church Year Used by permission
Nicholas would not give up and continued to try to persuade him. The captain finally gave in and offered Nicholas two sacks of grain. Nicholas thanked him sincerely and said, "Your kindness will be rewarded."
Nicholas took the grain and distributed it to the starving people. Although he started with only two sacks of grain, all the hungry people had enough to eat.
However the captain had the biggest surprise of all. As he left the harbour he wondered how he could tell his master he had given two sacks of grain to the people of Myra. He decided to count the sacks once more, and to his great surprise the cargo was intact. No sacks were missing.
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From Our Colourful Church Year by Esther Hebert, gesa Rensmann, Martina Spinková, adapted from the German by Kathleen Pearce, Don Bosco Publications, © 2004. Used by permission.