The origin of Santa Claus can be traced by a man named Nicolas of Myra, also known as St. Nick, who lived in the late third century. The city of Myra was located in the Roman region of Asia Minor in what is now southern Turkey.
Nicholas was brought up in a Christian home. His parents instructed him in Christian teaching, and he particularly enjoyed hearing stories about Jesus. When his mother told him how Jesus healed the sick, cared for the needy, and performed miracles, St. Nick found himself wishing Jesus was still on earth.
During his teen years, his wealthy parents later died, leaving a great fortune to Nicholas. To find direction for his life, he went on an extended pilgrimage to Egypt and the Holy Land. Upon his return to Myra, Nicholas attended every assembly of the church and spent hours in prayer. Whenever Christians met in Myra, Nicholas was there.
On the 24th of February, in the year 303, Diocletian, the emperor of Rome, published the edict against the Christians. The decree ordered the immediate destruction of Christian scriptures, places of worship across the entire empire, and prohibited Christians from assembling for worship. As the story goes, the Bishop of Myra died during the persecution. Finding a replacement for the respected leader would be a difficult assignment because frankly, anyone accepting the job was permanently signing his death warrant.
One night, the head of the Church Council was told in a dream to stand by the front door of the meeting place the next morning, and should ask the name of each person entering. The first person responding with Nicholas was to be appointed the new bishop.
Even though Nicholas was surprised when confronted by the church official, after much prayers, he accepted the appointment as bishop. Immediately after that, he was jailed and spent some time in a Roman prison early in his ministry. It was after that imprisonment that Bishop Nicholas discovered the importance of a faith that works. This faith motivated all of his actions and caused him to feel responsible for meeting the needs of his community.
He dedicated all his wealth to this end, and at times, he disguised himself and secretly visited the homes of the needy. Under the cloak of darkness, he delivered food, clothing, and money. Now the thing was, the recipients had no idea where these blessings originated, as far as they were concerned, God himself had answered their prayers and met their needs.
Nicholas taught others the manifold blessings of secret giving; as a result, many learned how God could use those who give unselfishly, with no thought of any personal recognition or appraisal. Upon his death, some citizens of Myra picked up where Nicholas left off, and secretly began meeting the deepest needs of hurting souls, seeking no credit at all for their benevolent actions, especially during the Christmas season. From there, the idea of a secret gift-giver in the image of a Santa Claus came into reality.
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