The Sailors' Friend

St Nicholas on ship
Icon: Niculita Darastean, Romania
St Nicholas Center Collection

A ship in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, caught by a storm, was forced into shallow waters where it became grounded. The sailors were unable to maneuver it back into deeper water. Accounts of Bishop Nicholas' help to distressed sailors had already spread far and wide. The sailors called on Nicholas for aid, even though they were distant from him, as they believed they might be saved by his prayer and intervention.

Nicholas actually appeared on the ship and gave the sailors a helping hand. Together they retied and strengthened the ropes holding the masts and worked with poles to pry the ship away from the threatening rocks into deeper water. As soon as the boat was freed and able to again set sail, the image of Nicholas vanished.

The ship took refuge in a calm harbor and the sailors went looking for a church where they could thank God for their rescue. It so happened that they had taken shelter in Myra and made their way to the cathedral church. Seeing a number of priests, they were suddenly startled to see Bishop Nicholas himself, whom they recognized from the image they had seen on shipboard, giving them assistance. They asked Nicholas how he had heard them and been able to come to their rescue. Nicholas replied that a life devoted to God allows a person to be so clear-sighted as to be able to actually see others in danger and hear their calls for help. The bishop urged the sailors to devote their lives to God and, thereby, to help people in need.

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