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December 6, 2020

Saint Nicholas and the Deliverance of the Drowned Infant


Once, in Kiev, on the feast of the holy martyrs Boris and Gleb, a multitude of people flocked from all the cities and villages for the feast of the holy martyrs. One Kievan, having great faith in St. Nicholas and in the holy martyrs Boris and Gleb, took a boat and sailed to Vishegorod, to venerate the tomb of the holy martyrs Boris and Gleb taking with him candles, incense, and prosphora - everything necessary for a worthy celebration.* Having venerated the relics of the saints and having rejoiced in spirit, he departed for home. When he sailed on the river Dnieper, his wife, holding her child in her arms, fell asleep and dropped the child into the water, and he drowned. His father began to tear his hair, crying aloud:

“Woe is me, St. Nicholas, for I did not have great enough faith in thee that thou mightest save my child from drowning! Who will be heir to my property; whom shall I teach to make radiant festivity to thy memory, my protector? How shall I proclaim thy great kindness, which thou hast poured out on the whole world and on me the unfortunate, when my child is drowned? I wanted to raise him, enlightening him with thy miracles so that after my death he would praise me because my offspring keeps the memory of St. Nicholas. But thou, O saint, hast not only given me sorrow, but also to thyself, for soon it will be necessary for commemoration of thee to cease in my house, for I an old and await the end. If thou hadst wished to save the child, thou couldst have saved him, but thou thyself didst allow him to drawn, and didst not deliver mine only child from the sea deeps. Or dost thou think that I do not know of thy miracles? For they are innumerable, and the tongue of man cannot relate them, and I, holy Father, believe that with thee all things are possible that thou desirest to do, but overcome mine iniquities. Now I understand, tormented with sorrow, that if I had kept the commandments of God blamelessly, all creation would be subject to me, as to Adam in paradise before the fall. But now all creation revolts against me: water drowns, wild beasts attack, serpents swallow, lightning burns, the birds consume, animals rage and trample everything, people destroy, bread given us for food does not satisfy us and, by the will of God, will be unto us for ruination. And we, endowed with soul and intelligence and created in the image of God, do not fulfill, however, as required, the will of our Creator. But be not angered against me, holy Father Nicholas, that I dare to speak boldly, for I do not despair of my salvation, having thee as helper.”

And his wife tore her hair and beat herself on the cheeks. Finally they reached the city and in sorrow came to their home. Night came, and then the Bishop of Christ, Nicholas, who is quick to help all that call upon him, performed a wondrous miracle, such as never in olden times. During the night he took from the river the drowned child and placed him in the choir loft of the Cathedral of Saint Sophia, alive and unharmed. When the time came for morning prayers, the sacristan entered the church and heard a child crying in the choir loft. And he stood a long while wondering: “Who has allowed a woman into the choir loft?”

He went to the one in charge of the choir and began to reprimand him; that one replied that he knew nothing, but the sacristan accused him: “You are caught in the act, for children cry in the choir loft.”

The one in charge of the choir was frightened and, going up to the look, he saw that it was untouched and he heard a child’s voice. Entering the choir loft, he saw before the icon of St. Nicholas a child, all soaking wet with water. Not knowing how to explain it, he told the Metropolitan about it. Having finished the morning service, the Metropolitan sent to gather the people in the square and asked them whose child lay in the choir loft of the Cathedral of Saint Sophia. All the citizens went into the church, wondering how this child came to be in the choir loft, wet with water. The father of the child came also, in order to wonder at the miracle, and, seeing, recognized him. But, not trusting himself, he went to his wife and told her all in detail. And she at once began to reproach her husband, saying:

“How is it that thou dost not understand that this is a miracle performed by St. Nicholas?”

She went with haste to the church, recognized her child, and, not touching him, fell down before the icon of St. Nicholas** and prayed, with compunction and tears. Her husband, standing at a distance, shed tears. Hearing about this, all the people flocked to see the miracle, and the whole city gathered, glorifying God and St. Nicholas. The Metropolitan celebrated an honorable feast, as observed on the commemoration day of St. Nicholas, glorifying the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


* The relics of Sts. Boris and Gleb were then still in Vishegorod of Kiev. The miracle which is related here occurred between the years 1087 and 1091.

** This icon became known as "Wet Nicholas", and wrought many miracles throughout Russia. It was lost during the Mongol-Tatar raids. The revered icon that replaced it was exported to the West during the Soviet years and is located in the Church of the Holy Trinity in New York.
Taken from Orthodox Life, Volume 37, No. 6, November-December 1987, Published by Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, New York.