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디트로이트 성 김대건 안드레아 한인 가톨릭교회

St. Nicholas.GIF

성 니콜라오 주교


소아시아 리키아(Lycia)의 파타라(Patara)에서 태어난 성 니콜라우스(Nicolaus, 또는 니콜라오)는 집안이 매우 유복하였다. 그가 성덕과 신심 그리고 기적 등으로 유명하게 된 것은 미라의 주교 때였다고 한다. 디오클레티아누스 황제의 그리스도교 박해 동안에는 그 역시 신앙 때문에 투옥되었으나 다행히 석방되었고, 아리우스(Arius) 이단을 단죄한 니케아(Nicaea) 공의회에도 참석하였다. 

그의 생애는 거의 알려진 것이 없지만, 그의 뛰어난 행적으로 인한 전설과 비공식 전기 등은 매우 아름답게 채색되어 있다는 것이 정설이다. 그는 파타라 출신인데 돈 많은 양친이 사망하면서부터 죄인들의 회개를 위하여 헌신함과 동시에 자신의 막대한 유산을 가난한 사람들과 자선활동을 위하여 사용하기 시작하였다. 그의 행적 가운데 가장 아름다운 이야기는 어느 가난한 세 처녀에 관한 것이다. 그녀의 부친이 딸들의 지참금 문제에 얽혀 사랑스런 딸들을 매춘부로 넘겨야 할 곤경에 처했음을 알고, 니콜라우스는 세 번에 걸쳐 그 집에 금이 든 자루 세 개를 몰래 넣어 주었고, 마침내 이 세 자매는 정당하게 혼인할 수 있었다는 것이다. 그는 이교 신전을 부수었으며, 지방 관리인 에우스타시우스(Eustasius)를 몰아세워서 무죄한 죄수 3명을 사형 직전에 직접 구출했는가 하면, 콘스탄틴 황제의 꿈에 나타나서 무죄한 정부관리 3명의 무죄 사실을 알려 그들이 석방되게 했다는 등 수많은 전설이 전해온다.

이러한 행적으로 인해 그의 명성은 전 서방에 퍼져나갔고, 1087년에 그의 유해를 바리(Bari)로 이전하여 경당을 세우자 유럽 최대의 순례지가 되기도 하였다. 그래서 그는 흔히 바리의 성 니콜라우스로 불린다. 죄수들과 어린이들의 수호성인인 그는 또한 리키아 연안의 뱃사람들을 극적으로 구출했던 사실 때문에 폭풍우에 갇힌 뱃사람들의 수호성인으로서 공경을 받고 있다.

그리고 성탄절 때 어린이들에게 성 니콜라우스의 이름으로 선물을 주는 관습은 아주 오래전부터 시작되었다. 성 니콜라우스는 네덜란드에서는 '신터 클레스'(Sinter Claes), 영어권에서는 '산타 클로스'(Santa Claus)로 불려졌다. 그러나 주의할 사실은 산타 클로스의 모습은 그리스도인의 모습이 아니라, 독일의 신인 토르(Thor)에 근거하는 것이다. 이 신은 겨울과 유울 로그(Yule Log, 성탄전야에 때는 큰 장작) 그리고 크랙커와 그나셜이라 부르는 염소들이 끄는 마차와 관련되는 토속적인 신인 것이다. 이것은 니콜라우스를 토착화시킨 형태라고 보는 것이다. 어쨌든 성 니콜라우스는 그리스, 시칠리아(Sicilia), 풀리아(Puglia), 로렌(Lorraine) 그리고 러시아의 수호성인이기도 하다. [12월 6일] <굿뉴스>


Saint Nicholas, bishop

Optional Memorial

The veneration with which this saint has been honored in both East and West, the number of altars and churches erected in his memory, and the countless stories associated with his name all bear witness to something extraordinary about him. Yet the one fact concerning the life of Nicholas of which we can be absolutely certain is that he was bishop of Myra in the fourth century. According to tradition, he was born at Patara, Lycia, a province of southern Asia Minor where St. Paul had planted the faith. Myra, the capital, was the seat of a bishopric founded by St. Nicander. The accounts of Nicholas given us by the Greek Church all say that he was imprisoned in the reign of Diocletian, whose persecutions, while they lasted, were waged with great severity. Some twenty years after this he appeared at the Council of Nicaea,[1] to join in the condemnation of Arianism. We are also informed that he died at Myra and was buried in his cathedral. Such a wealth of literature has accumulated around Nicholas that we are justified in giving a brief account of some of the popular traditions, which in the main date from medieval times. St. Methodius, patriarch of Constantinople towards the middle of the ninth century, wrote a life of the saint in which he declares that “up to the present the life of the distinguished shepherd has been unknown to the majority of the faithful.” Nearly five hundred years had passed since the death of the good St. Nicholas, and Methodius’ account, therefore, had to be based more on legend than actual fact.

He was very well brought up, we are told, by pious and virtuous parents, who set him to studying the sacred books at the age of five. His parents died while he was still young, leaving him with a comfortable fortune, which he resolved to use for works of charity. Soon an opportunity came. A citizen of Patara had lost all his money and his three daughters could not find husbands because of their poverty. In despair their wretched father was about to commit them to a life of shame. When Nicholas heard of this, he took a bag of gold and at night tossed it through an open window of the man’s house. Here was a dowry for the eldest girl, and she was quickly married. Nicholas did the same for the second and then for the third daughter. On the last occasion the father was watching by the window, and overwhelmed his young benefactor with gratitude.

It happened that Nicholas was in the city of Myra when the clergy and people were meeting together to elect a new bishop, and God directed them to choose him. This was at the time of Diocletian’s persecutions at the beginning of the fourth century. The Greek writers go on to say that now, as leader, “the divine Nicholas was seized by the magistrates, tortured, then chained and thrown into prison with other Christians. But when the great and religious Constantine, chosen by God, assumed the imperial diadem of the Romans, the prisoners were released from their bonds and with them the illustrious Nicholas.” St. Methodius adds that “thanks to the teaching of St. Nicholas, the metropolis of Myra alone was untouched by the filth of the Arian heresy, which it firmly rejected as a death-dealing poison.” He does not speak of Nicholas’ presence at the Council of Nicaea, but according to other traditions he was not only there but went so far in his indignation as to slap the arch-heretic Arius in the face! At this, they say, he was deprived of his episcopal insignia and imprisoned, but Our Lord and His Mother appeared and restored to him both his liberty and his office. Nicholas also took strong measures against paganism. He tore down many temples, among them one to the Greek goddess Artemis, which was the chief pagan shrine of the district.

Nicholas was also the guardian of his people in temporal affairs. The governor had been bribed to condemn three innocent men to death. On the day fixed for their execution Nicholas stayed the hand of the executioner and released them. Then he turned to the governor and reproved him so sternly that he repented. There happened to be present that day three imperial officers, Nepotian, Ursus, and Herpylion, on their way to duty in Phrygia. Later, after their return, they were imprisoned on false charges of treason by the prefect and an order was procured from the Emperor Constantine for their death. In their extremity they remembered the bishop of Myra’s passion for justice and prayed to God for his intercession. That night Nicholas appeared to Constantine in a dream, ordering him to release the three innocent officers. The prefect had the same dream, and in the morning the two men compared their dreams, then questioned the accused officers. On learning that they had prayed for the intervention of Nicholas, Constantine freed them and sent them to the bishop with a letter asking him to pray for the peace of the world. In the West the story took on more and more fantastic forms; in one version the three officers eventually became three boys murdered by an innkeeper and put into a brine tub from which Nicholas rescued them and restored them to life.

The traditions all agree that Nicholas was buried in his episcopal city of Myra. By the time of Justinian, some two centuries later, his feast was celebrated and there was a church built over his tomb. The ruins of this domed basilica, which stood in the plain where the city was built, were excavated in the nineteenth century. The tremendous popularity of the saint is indicated by an anonymous writer of the tenth century who declares: “The West as well as the East acclaims and glorifies him. Wherever there are people, in the country and the town, in the villages, in the isles, in the farthest parts of the earth, his name is revered and churches are erected in his honor.” In 1034 Myra was taken by the Saracens. Several Italian cities made plans to get possession of the relics of the famous Nicholas. The citizens of Bari finally in 1087 carried them off from the lawful Greek custodians and their Moslem masters. A new church was quickly built at Bari and Pope Urban II was present at the enshrining of the relics. Devotion to St. Nicholas now increased and many miracles were attributed to his intercession.

The image of St. Nicholas appeared often on Byzantine seals. Artists painted him usually with the three boys in a tub or else tossing a bag of gold through a window. In the West he has often been invoked by prisoners, and in the East by sailors. One legend has it that during his life-time he appeared off the coast of Lycia to some storm-tossed mariners who invoked his aid, and he brought them safely to port. Sailors in the Aegean and Ionian seas had their “star of St. Nicholas” and wished one another safe voyages with the words, “May St. Nicholas hold the tiller.”

From the legend of the three boys may have come the tradition of his love for children, celebrated in both secular and religious observances. In many places there was once a year a ceremonious installation of a “boy bishop.” In Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands gifts were bestowed on children at Christmas time in St. Nicholas’ name. The Dutch Protestant settlers of New Amsterdam made the custom popular on this side of the Atlantic. The Eastern saint was converted into a Nordic magician (Saint Nicholas—Sint Klaes—Santa Claus). His popularity was greatest of all in Russia, where he and St. Andrew were joint national patrons. There was not a church that did not have some sort of shrine in honor of St. Nicholas and the Russian Orthodox Church observes even the feast of the translation of his relics. So many Russian pilgrims came to Bari in Czarist times that the Russian government maintained a church, a hospital, and a hospice there. St. Nicholas is also patron of Greece, Apulia, Sicily, and Lorraine, of many cities and dioceses. At Rome the basilica of St. Nicholas was founded as early as the end of the sixth or the beginning of the seventh century. In the later Middle Ages four hundred churches were dedicated to him in England alone. St. Nicholas’ emblems are children, a mitre, a vessel.

Notes:
1 Nicaea was a city in Bithynia, now northwestern Turkey, a short distance south of Constantinople. The Council of Nicaea, in 325, was the first ecumenical church council, and was called by the Emperor Constantine to bring about agreement on matters of creed. For more on Arianism, see below, St. Athanasius, n. 6.

This was taken from “Lives of Saints”, Published by John J. Crawley & Co., Inc.
<http://divineoffice.org/about-dec-06-nicholas >