St. Nicholas

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Bishop Nicholas and Rupert
December 5

by Christine Natale

Gentle stories in the Waldorf tradition for the days before St. Nicholas Day, December 6

December 1 – The Little Boy Nicholas
December 2 – Bishop Nicholas
December 3 – Bishop Nicholas and the Family
December 4 – The Girl and the Wolf
December 5 – Bishop Nicholas and Rupert
December 6 – Saint Nicholas and Knecht Rupert
Wool St Nicholas & RupertSt. Nicholas and Rupert
Mary Glanche Morse, Ward, Colorado, USA
St Nicholas Center Collection


Bishop Nicholas often traveled about the countryside, bringing people things that they needed. He had a big sack that grew very heavy with food, clothing, medicine and other good things. Leaning on his staff, he carried this sack though the forests and over the hills.

One day, as he was journeying through the forest with his sack, he heard a low moaning sound coming from the brush with some howling noises. It didn't sound like any animal that he knew of, but it certainly didn't sound like a human being either. Whatever it was, it sounded like it was in great pain and distress.

So Bishop Nicholas put down his sack and held tightly to his staff, making his way through the thick undergrowth of the forest. He parted the bushes and there lay a creature on the ground with its foot caught in a cruel steel trap. This creature might have been a human being, but it was covered in furs and its hair was long and tangled and its fingernails were long and sharp like claws. It snarled at Bishop Nicholas and would not let him near to help free its foot from the trap.

What could Bishop Nicholas do? He made his way back to the path, raced to the town and bought a light but strong chain. He hurried back to the forest and the creature who was in ever greater pain. He bound its arms with the chain. Now he could free the hurt foot. The creature passed out from pain and exhaustion and Nicholas was able to pick him up and carry him home. He put him into his own bed, washed the foot and put medicine and bandages on it and gave the creature some food. When the creature saw that Nicholas was not going to hurt it, it took the food and ate, then fell asleep again.

While it slept, Nicholas washed it with soap and water, trimmed its nails and clipped its hair and beard. It really was human after all!

The man creature lived with Bishop Nicholas a long time. His foot healed, although he had a slight limp for the rest of his life. As soon as Nicholas saw that the creature wouldn't do any harm, he took the chains off his arms. He had to teach him to stand upright and not walk on all fours. He never was able to stand perfectly straight, but always had a slight stoop. And with great effort and patience, Nicholas taught him how to speak, although some words always remained difficult for him.

1902 Austrian PostcardE. Docker, artist
1902 Postcard, Austria
St Nicholas Center Collection

And Nicholas gave the man creature a name. He called him Rupert. When Rupert could speak, Nicholas learned that he had been abandoned in the forest as child and had survived with the help of some wild animals. Rupert had never really known if he was a person or an animal.

Bishop Nicholas taught Rupert many things, especially about God and the angels in Heaven. Rupert loved Nicholas with all his heart. He began to help Bishop Nicholas by carrying his heavy sacks and baskets when he journeyed to help people. At first, the children were a little bit frightened of the strange Rupert. He could not stand up as straight as they could. He could not speak as well as they could and he wore always a bit of fur as a reminder of his days in the forest and a chain around his heart to show his love and gratitude to Bishop Nicholas. But they soon found out that he loved them every bit as much as Bishop Nicholas as did.

Whenever Rupert saw children who had warm clothes and safe homes, good food and loving parents and who knew about the angels in heaven, his heart was filled with joy. His greatest pleasure as to give them the good gifts that Bishop Nicholas had brought. He also loved to play games with them, to play silly tricks to make them laugh. But oh! If he met some children who would not learn their lessons or mind their manners or thank the Good God for all of their blessings, he would take a little bundle of switches and switch their knees. He would chase them around and around until they promised to try to be better.

Everywhere that Bishop Nicholas went, he took Rupert with him and he still does to this day.


The other stories in this series

December 1 – The Little Boy Nicholas
December 2 – Bishop Nicholas
December 3 – Bishop Nicholas and the Family
December 4 – The Girl and the Wolf
December 6 – Saint Nicholas and Knecht Rupert

By Christine Natale, who used them in her Waldorf kindergarten   Used by permission.

 Musings on Saint Nicholas or How to Play Saint Nicholas
by Christine Natale


Fairy Tales by Christine Natale, Straw Into Gold Press, 2010. A collection of fifteen original fairy tales, 3-4 for each season, gentle stories created for Waldorf kindergarten.

Purchase from amazon.com or amazon.uk.


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