Tax Relief For Myra

Nicholas beseeching Constantine
Tossing scroll into the sea
Diptych Icon by Daniel Berhanemeskel
St. Nicholas Center Collection

The people of Myra were suffering under the burden of heavy taxes. They begged Bishop Nicholas to ask the emperor to relieve them of the high taxes which caused such hardship.

Nicholas went to Constantine to plead the cause of his people. The emperor heard Nicholas' pleas and granted a large reduction. Nicholas was given a written copy of the order.

He immediately took the copy and went down to the sea where he threw the parchment out into the water.

Soon afterwards it was fished out of the water near Myra and taken to the proper authorities. The order was put into immediate effect and taxes were lowered substantially.

Meanwhile the finance ministers convinced Constantine that losing this revenue would seriously harm the royal treasury. Constantine summoned Nicholas back and asked to have the order returned so it could be changed to a much smaller tax cut. When Nicholas reported that the order had already been put into effect in Myra, Constantine sent a runner to determine the truth.

How could it be true when Bishop Nicholas was still in Constantinople? However, when Nicholas' words were confirmed, the emperor allowed the full reduction to stand.

A century later Myra's people still attributed their low rate of taxation to St. Nicholas.

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