The origins of the cult of Saint Nicholas

The origins of the cult of Saint Nicholas

The most numerous traces of the cult of St. Nicholas date back to the sixth century. Among the most important, the Vita Nicolai Sionitae, composed in 564, tells the story of a monk of Sion, a monastery not far from Mira. In the text, rich in information on Christianity in Lycia, is given certain testimony of the development of the cult of the saint in the region.

In the seventh century, the cult of St. Nicholas crossed the frontiers of the Byzantine world and reached Rome, already in the first half of the century. We also find the name of the bishop of Myra in a Georgian Palestinian calendar.

The eighth century saw the proliferation of churches in honor of Nicholas and the images dedicated to him. To this century also date the Citation of Andrew of Crete and perhaps the Life of the Saint written by Michael Archimandrite.

Between the 8th and 9th centuries, the cult of Nicholas was consolidated due to a specific circumstance. The Arab invaders who raged in this period often stole their children from their parents who turned in search of protection to the patron saint of children.

The cult of the bishop of Mira was consolidated in the ninth century. The name of Nicholas spread throughout Europe, to the point that the panegyrist Niceta of Paflagonia around 890 spoke of him as a hyperaghios, a supersant and another author of the same period said that, after Christ and the Madonna, St. Nicholas was the figure most invoked by the faithful.

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