• Justine McLellan

Saint-Nicholas, Literal Patron Saint of Whores

Saint-Nicholas was born in the second century AC to wealthy Greek Christian parents in Patara, a small village on the Mediterranean sea. Nicholas’s was orphaned at a young age. Devoutly christian, he followed Jesus’s command to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor”, and redistributed large inheritance to those in need.

When he was canonized, he became the patron saint of archers, children, merchants, sailors, students, brewers and repentant sinners such as thieves and whores.

According to Maggie McNeil, “[t]he mythology surrounding St. Nick is a combination of legends about the historical Bishop Nicholas of Myra and traditions about the god Odin; like the god he is elderly and white-bearded, rides a magical horse and has omniscient knowledge of the behavior of individual mortals, but he wears a bishop’s robes and distributes largess on the eve of December 6th”.

Christian lore states that a previously wealthy man had three daughters for whom he could not afford a dowry. Dowry-less women to get married and, as Maggie McNeil notes, ‘in the absence of other marketable skills would be forced into prostitution (the slavery kind) to support themselves”. Full of compassion, Nicholas wanted to anonymously help the girl’s predicament, so he threw a purse filled with gold coins through the family’s window. Each year, before one of the daughters came of age, the family would receive a secret purse of gold. Some says that on the night before the youngest daughter came of age, the purse fell in a stocking or a shoe, which where the tradition of putting gifts in stockings may have originated. Other says that on the eve of his youngest daughter coming of age, the father, curious as to know who was his family’s mysterious benefactor, stayed up all night in order to find out, but since Nicholas was anxious to remain anonymous, he instead dropped the purse through the chimney.


The Saint Nicholas Center "Who is Saint Nicholas?"

Maggie McNeil "Saint-Nicholas"

©2019 by Kaytlin Bailey and Justine McLellan.