Pawnbrokers Honor Patron Saint
Today’s pawnbrokers* have not forgotten St. Nicholas, their patron saint. On December 6th the National Pawnbrokers Association sponsors an annual Musical Instrument Gift Day in celebration of National Pawnbrokers Day, which coincides with St. Nicholas Day.
Carrying out St. Nicholas’ spirit of compassion, generosity, and hope, pawn stores nationwide will donate musical instruments to children who need them most. The project is in cooperation with Boys and Girls Clubs of America and some individual schools.
Saint Nicholas of Myra is famed for his generosity to the poor and for his penchant for secretly leaving gifts for people in need. Historians often recount how he saved a poor man’s daughters from being sold into servitude by throwing three bags of gold into the father’s window at night. St. Nicholas, recognized in America as Santa Claus, is the Patron Saint of pawnbroking, and his three bags of gold have always been the international symbol of pawn brokers.
Research shows that children who study music excel in mathematics, language and reading development, and critical thinking skills. Further studies in the UK have shown that children studying music engage in fewer anti-social behaviors. The project provides an opportunity for pawnbrokers to reach out to their neighborhoods, improve a child’s life, and help their communities.
The association hopes that, working together, they can help improve the lives and educations of needy children across the country.
* People often ask how St. Nicholas became associated with pawn shops. In the early 14th century montes pietatius, precursors to today’s pawn shops, were established by Franciscan friars, to helping the poor. They gave low-interest loans to poor families so they could buy food. The Franciscans alone started 150 montes pietatius. In 1514 Pope Julius II gave an edict endorsing montes pietatius, as they provided necessary support to European peasants. Because St. Nicholas had generously provided help to the man who needed dowries for his daughters, he was recognized for his generosity and concern for the poor and became the patron saint of the montes pietarius.
National Pawnbrokers Association Musical Instrument Gift Day
“St. Nick, Patron of Pawn Shops,” by Peter Greer and Chris Horst, Christianity Today, December 18, 2014