What Is the Story of St. Nicholas?

story-st-nicholas Credit: Avid Creative, Inc/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

St. Nicholas is a fourth century Christian and Greek bishop of Myra, which is now part of modern Turkey. He had a reputation for secretly putting coins in the shoes of the poor who left them out in hopes of gifts and, therefore, became the model for the modern-day Santa Claus for the Christian holiday of Christmas.

St. Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers and students. In his life, he was the only son of a very wealthy Christian family and was able to give gifts to the poor. His religion, including the ideas that came with it about good doing and brotherhood, was very important to him. Most of his life was spent with the church and various important members of the church.

The inspiration for Santa Claus came from the stories about Saint Nick helping poor families, but doing so at night as he did not wish to humiliate them. In one story, he threw three purses of money down the chimney of a man who could not afford the dowry for his three daughters to get married. In another, he brought three murdered children back to life through his prayers, earning him the reputation as a savior to children. Both stories added to the idea that he brought gifts to little children by the way of chimney during night.