Unexpected Treasure

Digging up gold
Detail: The Life & Miracles of Saint Nicholas
Artist: Alexander Boguslawski
St. Nicholas Center Collection

Once there was a monastery near Constantinople. It was a poor monastery, as the rule required the monks to keep no material possessions and to rely entirely upon the charity of travelers. Travelers were sometimes scarce and sometimes stingy, as well. When the monastery was in great need the monks would pray to Saint Nicholas for help.

One day, as a traveler went along the road near the monastery, he came upon a man's body laying beside the road. Taking pity on the man, he took the body to the monastery, asking the monks to bury the man. The traveler gave a generous donation to cover burial expenses and aid the monastery.

A year later, the same traveler was again near the monastery and came to the very spot where he'd found the body. This time a boy was standing on the spot. Asked what he was doing there, the boy explained, "My father disappeared last year and I am trying to find him." The traveler took the boy to the monastery so he could see his father's grave. Standing by the grave, the boy asked to take the body home to his mother.

The monks honored the boy's request and began to dig up the coffin. As they dug, they found the grave filled with gold and silver coins. Puzzled, they turned to ask they boy what this meant. But the boy had vanished.

Saint Nicholas later appeared to the Abbot, telling him that the monks no longer needed to worry about money. God had sent an angel, disguised as a boy, to reward the compassion of the man and the monks who looked after the body of the man found alongside the road.

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The vitae of St. Nicholas and His Hagiographical Icons in Russia, Vol. 2, doctoral dissertation by Alexander Bogouslawski, University of Kansas, 1980, pp. 86-87.

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