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December 6, 2016

Synaxarion of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra

On the sixth of this month [December], we commemorate our Holy Father Nicholas the Archbishop of Myra in Lycia the Wonderworker.


While on earth Nicholas was a great intercessor,
Departing the earth he still fervently intercedes.
On the sixth the end of the life of Nicholas appeared.

He lived during the reigns of Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (286-305) the tyrants. First he shined in the monastic state. Later, because of his exceeding virtue, he became a Hierarch. Because the Saint freely preached about piety, he was captured by the rulers of the city of Lycia, and punished with beatings and tortures. He was then thrown into prison with other Christians.

When the great Constantine became the emperor of the Christians by the election of God, then all Christians were set free who had been bound to prison. Together with them the great Nicholas was set free. Not long thereafter, there gathered together in Nicaea by Constantine the Great the holy First Ecumenical Synod, in the year 325, where a position was held by the divine Nicholas.

He whose name signified victory, worked many miracles, as his full biography records. He liberated three men from death that were unjustly slandered in the following manner. These men were imprisoned in Constantinople, when they learned of their death sentence, that the next day they were to be beheaded. They therefore called upon the Saint to help them, remembering how he had liberated the three men in Lycia who were to unjustly be put to death. Therefore Saint Nicholas heard their entreaties, and appeared in the dream of Emperor Constantine and his eparch Avlavios. And he rebuked the eparch, because he unjustly accused the three guiltless men to the emperor. And he taught the emperor that the three condemned men were not responsible, but they were wrongly accused due to envy, for being apostates and worthy of death. Thus by this vision the Saint liberated them from the sentence of death.

Not only this, but many other miracles did the wonderworking Nicholas perform. And in a sacred and venerable way did he shepherd his orthodox flock. Having arrived at old age, he departed to the Lord. Even after his death, the good shepherd did not abandon his flock, but just about every day and hour, he grants those who entreat him beneficence and grace, and he frees from all dangers and circumstances those who call upon him with faith. Because the beneficences and graces of this great Father are many and without number, for this reason I will leave all of them, and will bring to remembrance only one. Let those who hear this miracle be not unbelieving, which took place in our days, thinking that it is impossible. For nothing is impossible with God.

In Constantinople there was a pious and faithful Christian, who exceedingly loved our venerable Father Nicholas, and who in turn was also beloved by Father Nicholas. On account of some necessary business he had to go on a voyage to another land, and he first went to the Church of Saint Nicholas where he prayed from the depth of his heart. He then bid farewell to his family and friends, and embarked on a ship.

At around the ninth hour of the night, the crew arose to unfurl the sails, because the winds had changed. And this most reverent man arose to attend to his service at the waters. As the sailors were busy turning the sails, the Christian became entangled and was thrown overboard into the sea (this type of incident is not rare in these circumstances). The sailors did not attempt to pull the man out of the sea, first, because it was dark, and second, because the winds blew mightily, and the ship had to be forced to go straight. They therefore sat and lamented and wept on behalf of the bitter death of this man.

This Christian, have fallen into the sea wearing all his clothes, as he was submerged in the depth of the sea, brought himself to remembrance and said with his mind: "Saint Nicholas help me." Crying out with his noetic voice - O the miracle! Your wonders Lord are many and incomprehensible! - he was found to be in his house. Not sensing this, he thought he was still in the depths of the sea. Wherefore even there he cried out, not noetically but sensibly: "Saint Nicholas help me." When his neighbors heard his voice they arose, along with the people in his house, and they lit the light. Even those who were outside heard this, and they ran and saw him in the middle of his house standing and crying. They also saw much water from the sea dripping from the clothing he wore. From their astonishment and wonder, they were speechless and silent, not knowing what to say. But the Christian cried out: "Brethren, what is this that I see? I know very well, that yesterday at the ninth hour I bid farewell to all of you, and I embarked on the ship. And because the winds were suitable, we had gone out a long distance. At the second and third watch (namely at around the ninth hour of the night) I went to my service at the waters, and I was entangled by the sailors, and thrown into the sea. Therefore I called upon Saint Nicholas for help. Where I am now, I do not know. Wherefore do tell me. For I am beside myself and out of my mind."

When the gathered Christians heard this, and saw the water of the sea dripping from his clothes, they were unable to speak as we said, contemplating the strange miracle. Therefore they rejoiced together with their rescued brother, and wept with him. And for a long time they cried out: "Lord have mercy." The Christian then removed his wet clothing, and put on new ones, and he went to the Church of Saint Nicholas. There he spent a good portion of the night, falling down upon the icon of the Saint with tears, and supplicating, and giving thanks with wonder and astonishment. When the time came for matins, and the people gathered in the church of the Saint as was their habit, then the miracle of the Saint was revealed to everyone. When they smelled the aromatic and fragrant herbs that the rescued Christian brought to the Saint, and they saw the church of the Saint completely lit up, one by one they tried to find out the cause of the matter. When they learned of it, they were all amazed, and glorified God, and thanked the great Nicholas.

This extraordinary and true miracle and marvelous act of the Saint, became known throughout the Great City of Constantine. It even reached the ears of the emperor and patriarch of that time. Therefore they invited this rescued Christian to a Synod. Standing before all, he boldly narrated how and in what manner and when this fearsome and extraordinary miracle took place. Having all heard it, they cried out: "Great are You O Lord, and wondrous are Your works; there are no words which will suffice to sing hymns for Your wonders!" Having spread the news everywhere, all the Christians gathered in the Church of Saint Nicholas, and they did a procession and vigil, glorifying and blessing God, imparting thanksgiving also to the faithful healer Nicholas.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
The truth of things revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, a model of meekness, and a teacher of temperance. Therefore thou hast won the heights by humility, riches by poverty. Holy Father Nicholas, intercede with Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Thou wast a faithful minister of God in Myra, O Saint Nicholas. For having fulfilled the Gospel of Christ, thou didst die for the people and save the innocent. Therefore thou wast sanctified, being a great initiate of the grace of God.

Let us now praise the hierarch Nicholas in song, that shepherd and teacher in Myra, that by his intercessions we may receive illumination, O ye people. For behold, being undefiled in spirit, he was altogether a source of purification, offering to Christ the sacrifice that is pure and without blemish and acceptable to God, since he himself, as a priest, was made pure in soul and body. Wherefore, he is truly a protector and champion of the Church, being a great initiate of the grace of God.

Doxastikon in Plagal of the First Tone
Let us blow the trumpets of praise. Let us be happy in the feast, rejoicing in the exchange of glad tidings on the day of the God-mantled one. Let kings and leaders hasten to extol him who appeared to the emperor in a dream in a fearsome manner, convincing him to release the three generals arrested without cause. And let us shepherds and teachers come together and extol the shepherd, emulating the Good Shepherd in zeal. Let the sick extol the physician; those in tribulation, the rescuer; sinners, the intercessor; the poor, the treasure; the sorrowful, the comforter; travelers, the companion; and those at sea, the pilot; and let us all eulogize the great Bishop, who respondeth warmly everywhere, saying, O most holy Nicholas, apprehend us and rescue us from the present distress, and save thy congregation by thy intercessions.