Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker is one of the most well-known saints loved by Christians all around the world. People turn to him in prayer and often experience miracles because of his intercession. In the Belarussian Orthodox Church, there are a few days each year when we commemorate this wonderful saint. One of those days is May 22nd.
St Nicholas was born on March 15th 270 in the city of Patara in Turkey. His parents Theophanes and Nonna were pious Christians who vowed to dedicate their son to God. Since childhood, St Nicholas loved to study the Scripture and spend time in prayer.
When he was a young man, he was ordained a reader and then a priest at the parish of his uncle, Bishop Nicholas of Patara.
Saint Nicholas was a faithful priest who cared deeply about the people who would come to him for help and advice. He often saved people from poverty and sin by secretly giving them money.
At one point in time he visited the Holy Land and came to Golgotha where he worshipped God and offered Him prayers of thanksgiving. When he decided to live an ascetic life in the desert, he was stopped by a divine voice which told him that it was not the path for him and that he was supposed to serve God by serving others.
Soon, St Nicholas was ordained an archbishop. During his time as a faith servant of his flock, he was locked up in prison for refusing to worship idols. It is also believed that St Nicholas participated in the First Ecumenical Council in 325.
Even during his lifetime, many considered St Nicholas as a saint, not only because of his faith, but also because of the many miracles he performed over the years. For example, he once rescued the city of Myra from a famine by praying to the Lord.
Saint Nicholas peacefully fell asleep in the Lord when he reached old age. His venerable relics turned out to be incorrupt and continue to heal everyone who turns to Saint Nicholas with prayer up to this day.
Brother Konstantin, who works at our Convent, told us about the miracle he experienced because of St Nicholas’ prayers. We would like to share it with you:
“On August 11th, the day of St Nicholas’ nativity, I finished work and started to head out to go home. I was hurrying to catch a train when it started to pour with rain. I decided to wait it out even though I had an umbrella in my backpack.
I thought it would be a good idea to call an Uber - I often use it in such situations. In a few minutes, I got inside the car which was a Renault Logan. The driver looked at me and asked,
“Are you a priest?”
“No, I’m just a church choir precentor.”
“Can I ask you a question?” - said the driver.
“Sure, ask away.” - I had plenty of time until we would get to the train station.
“Is it bad to have tattoos?”
The driver was a young man all covered in tattoos from head to toe.
I told him what my opinion was. Of course, I tried to not offend him and started to use quotes from the New Testament. I told him that Christ spent a lot of time with all kinds of people who were considered to be sinners - harlots, publicans, lepers.
My monologue somehow reassured the young man. He told me about his rare attempts to go to church which only consisted of lighting a candle there and leaving. He asked me another question,
“And if I get a tattoo of an icon on my back, would God tolerate it?”
“If this will help you to open your heart for God - sure, why not! But there’s a tradition in the Orthodox Church to ask a priest for blessing. If he blesses you to do it - then you definitely can. What if God has a different plan for you?”
My answer seemed to make him question his beliefs.
“What would happen if I ask a saint for something?” - he asked me again.
“It is a good thing to do. Saints are people who lived their earthly lives just like we do, but their spiritual merits were greater. In the Orthodox Church, we believe that earthly life is not the end, and that all Christians will live forever. The saint that you pray to will definitely hear your prayers. Ask them for whatever your soul needs the most, something that you yourself can't change. Remember that nothing is impossible for God.”
The driver said, “It is so good that I met you today!”
I paid for my ride, said goodbye and got out of the car. In about two minutes, I realised that I forgot my umbrella in the car. So I found the man’s phone number and called him. When he answered my call, he told me that he was with another client and their ride would take 40 more minutes. Then the driver said timidly,
“I was planning to go to the church in the Convent after…”
“That is a great idea! Give my umbrella to any sister there and tell her that I will pick it up tomorrow.” - I smiled.
Later that day I got a message from sister Daria, “Konstantin, I have your umbrella. A man brought it to the Convent.”
What can I say?
I guess God directed this man to me and made him hear the exact words he needed to hear. And I believe that it happened with the prayers of Saint Nicholas.
Marvelous are Thy works, O Lord!”
2020 has been a very hard year for so many of us because of the coronavirus. At times, we’ve all felt scared, sad, and maybe even angry. Regardless of all the hardships, we must always remember that God has been with us every day.