Patron Saint for Women in Need

Charity of St Nicholas icon
The Charity of St. Nicholas
Icon: by Milka Botcheva, Bulgaria
St Nicholas Center Collection

Sex-trafficking and Prostitution

Saint Nicholas has been a recognized protector of women ever since he rescued three young women from a life of prostitution. When he learned they were to be sold into such a life, he secretly left gold on three different occasions to provide dowry money so they could be married. Thus, Saint Nicholas is a patron saint for victims of sexual slavery and human trafiking as part of his protection of those who are oppressed and vulnerable.


Since the Middle Ages, particularly in France, young women have beseeched Saint Nicolas for husbands, as he's known as the patron saint of unmarried women.

19th century French engraving
St Nicholas Center Collection

In the valley of Saint-Nicolas, very close to a waterfall, stands the Chapelle Saint-Nicolas des Rochers or Saint-Nicolas dans la Foret. It was built around 1550 following a first miracle. In the middle of the 16th century, a valet survived after his cart tipped over and fell--cart and animals--several meters below, into the stream. In gratitude for this miracle, the valet had a chapel built, named Saint Nicholas of the Rocks. In 1954 the old chapel next to the road was demolished when the road connecting the Alsace to Lorraine was widened. A new one, identical to the old one, was built in 1958, under the Oderen Pass. The chapel is near the village of Kruth.

However, the chapel is known for something else. Young women come here to ask St Nicholas for a husband. They address this prayer to him:

Saint Nicolas,
qui aimez les filles,
quand elles sont gentilles,
ne m'oubliez pas
quand vous distribuez les maris
Saint Nicholas,
who loves girls,
when they are nice,
do not forget me
when you distribute husbands.
Kruth St-Nicolas Chapel with basket for manalas
Photo: La Cascade St-Nicolas

Young women leave a Manala in a basket as an offering at the chapel when they pray for aid to find a husband. Alsatian bakers continue the tradition by baking Manalas for St. Nicholas Day, December 6th. Manalas are brioche buns in the shape of a man, "the Manalas". They are the most popular food (although the name may vary) for St. Nicholas Day in the east of France—Alsace, Lorraine, and Franche-Comté.


Women have turned to St. Nicholas when desiring a child and such hopes have not yet been fulfilled. One way such a request could be made is through the tradition of a Caminata de San Nicolás de los Tres Lunes, the Walk of St. Nicholas on Three Mondays. 
St Nicholas window detail, St Paul Parish Church, Morton, England
Photo: Gordon Plumb, used by permission

A Prayer to St. Nicholas for a Child (at Christmastime)

Generous St. Nicholas, you are the joy of little children, and the bearer of sweet gifts.
Please grant me the grace in my heart to be childlike once more.
Grant me the happiness, wonder, and awe, to enjoy the beautiful world that God has gifted us with.
Fill my heart with faith this Advent season, and help me to trust in the journey.
As your feast day prepares us for the Christmas season, so prepare my heart and faith to be strong in my time of waiting.

I ask you, St. Nicholas, for the greatest gift. The gift of a child.
Please place my request before the throne of Jesus, so that he may hear and answer my deepest request.
Continue to intercede on by behalf until my healthy and happy child is in my arms.
Obtain for me the grace to be peaceful and joyful during my waiting.
And, this advent season, bring me in reverence to the Holy Child of Bethlehem.

There are many reports of such prayers being answered, such as this one from Russia, over the centuries and around the world.

And so, St. Nicholas is a faithful friend for those in need, particularly women, as he's frequently called upon for aid by those who are vulnerable for a whole host of reasons. 

The Dowry Story
La Cascade St-Nicolas
Prayer to St. Nicholas for a child, to make a Mommy, March 12, 2017. Permission pending.

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