4. december 2017
On the icon, St Nicholas is depicted up to his shoulders, with a large aureole around his head. He is dressed in a red bishop’s garment and he has an omophor over his shoulders, with crosses and pressed flowers. He is blessing the viewer with his right hand, holding the closed Gospel in his left hand. On the left side, next to his head and on the level of his shoulders, Jesus Christ is shown. Jesus in heavenly clouds, with rays coming from His Nimbus, is handing the Gospel over to St. Nicholas. On the right side, we can see the image of the Mother of God. She is also on heavenly clouds with rays coming from her aureole, and she is passing omophor, a part of bishop’s liturgical garment, to St Nicholas. The face and eyes are highly expressive. The icon is written on a silver background. Along the edges of the icon there are selected saints depicted. On the left side, there is the holy archangel Raphael and St. Basil the Great. On the right, there is St. Bishop Stephen of Perm and St. John the Soldier. In the temples, the icon of St Nicholas is usually placed in the main row of the iconostasis, on the left (northern) side.
St Nicholas’ deeds give evidence about the fact that he elevated sympathetic and merciful love over the hypocritic attitude towards one’s neighbours. He took care of the needy, poor, ill and unfairly convicted. One of the most famous stories tells a tale of a nobleman who lost his property, and therefore was unable to give his three daughters proper dowry and prepare proper weddings for them. St Nicholas, moved by their fate, secretly threw a pouch of gold through the window of the house for his first daughter’s wedding. When he saw that the nobleman had reasonably used his gift and prepared a wedding for his oldest daughter, he repeated the same deed twice, saving all three daughters from dishonour. After that, reports of Nicholas’ philanthropy were spreading throughout Patare, and the glory they prompted began to be unbearable for this humble man. He decided to go to Jerusalem and then into the silence of the desert. He visited the places of the Passion of the Lord and spent some time in a cave. There he heard a voice in his dream: "Nicholas, go back to your ancestors whom you left!" After returning to the Patara Monastery, where he stayed for a short time, he went to Myra, the capital of the Lycia region. At that time bishops were getting together there to elect a new principal of the church after the death of Archbishop John. During the prayers with the believers, it was revealed to one of the bishops that the man who first enters the temple for the morning prayers is the one who had been chosen by God, and his name is Nicholas. The saint was reluctant to accept such a high rank but he had a vision at night, in which the Lord Jesus was giving him the Gospel, and the Mother of God was bringing him an omophore. Thus, St Nicolas humbly and in awe accepted the position and became the bishop of Myra. As the bishop he, however, did not cease to be a zealous announcer of the true faith and a protector of his believers. During his life, in 313, Milan edict was approved, which allowed Christianity to be a free religion. This saved St Nicholas’ life because he was imprisoned at that time, and threatened to die by torture. In 325, the 1st Nicene Council, dealing with the divine nature of Jesus Christ, took place. Arius, a priest from Alexandria, refused to accept the dogmas of the Council. Nicholas, in earnest defence, slapped Arius in the face, for which the fathers deprived Nicholas of his Omophor and put him in jail. Some of them, however, had the same vision as Nicholas when he was elected as the bishop of Myra, in which the Lord Jesus and his Mother came to him and brought him signs of Bishop’s power. St Nicholas, as well as other saints, is the proof of God’s election, as it is written in Romans 8:30: "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."
Saint Nicholas is a popular saint both in the Christian East and in the West. He is worshiped as a "quick" helper. His icons are not only in temples, they are also widespread in households.