|C14th De Grey Hours|
National Library of Wales
He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose English name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas.
In 1087, his relics were translated to Bari, in southeastern Italy; for this reason, he is also known as Nikolaos of Bari.
The reading on the saint in the Roman Office is as follows:
Nicolas was born in the famous city of Patar in Lycia. From his childhood he fasted every Wednesday and Friday, and maintained this custom throughout his life. Deprived of his parents in early youth, he distributed his possessions to the poor. One example of his marvelous charity is this: he came to the aid of three girls whose virtue was endangered by providing a sum of money sufficient for their dowries. While on a pilgrimage to Palestine, he went on God’s command to Mira, the metropolitan see of Lycia, where the bishop had died. Here, contrary to all expectation he was elected to the see by a marvelous consensus of all the assembled bishops of the province. In the work of his episcopate he stood out as an example of all virtues. But when he defied the edict of Diocletian and Maximian by continuing to preach the truth of the Christian faith, he was thrown into prison, where he remained until Constantine became Emperor. He took part in the Council of Nicea, at which the Arian heresy was condemned. Returning to his own country, he died a holy death in Mira. His body transferred to Bari in Apulia and is there venerated as a most famous relic.