Boyhood: Tragedy Strikes

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

As a boy Nicholas loved to visit the nearby monastery, where his uncle, who was also named Nicholas, was the abbot. There Nicholas began his life-long dedication to the church, as he joined in the daily cycle of worship, chanting prayers together with the monks. He learned to love and serve God from both his parents and his friends the monks.

Nicholas' parents took him to a local teacher, where he studied the classical subjects of the time. He learned philosophy, as well as scripture and theology from the monks. His home life, too, reflected love for God and the family belonged to the Christian community in Patara. Even though Roman authorities in Lycia were tolerant, Christians would have met in homes or other out-of-the-way places.1

Nicholas' parents died of the plague while he was still young, perhaps in his mid- to late-teens. As they had prospered during his childhood, Nicholas received a large inheritance. He went to live with his beloved Uncle Nicholas, who took responsibility for the youth. Nicholas lived with his uncle, the abbot, and the other monks of the monastery where he continued to study, to grow in faith, and to love and serve God.

Click to return to interactive painting
Return to Interactive Painting


  1. Christian church buildings as we know them would have been most unlikely before the time of Constantine.

back to top