As you all encounter pictures of "jolly, old St. Nick" this season, remember that St. Nicholas the Wonderworker was a real Christian hero. He spent his life working for freedom and justice for the poor and powerless. In particular, he is known for saving three women from being sold into prostitution and preventing the execution of three men who were wrongfully convicted.
From oca.org :
Saint Nicholas, the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, is famed as a great saint pleasing unto God. ... From his childhood, Nicholas thrived on the study of divine scripture; by day he would not leave church, and by night he prayed and read books, making himself a worthy dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.
There was a certain formerly rich inhabitant of Patara, whom St Nicholas saved from great sin. The man had three grown daughters, and in desperation he planned to sell their bodies so they would have money for food. The saint, learning of the man's poverty and of his wicked intention, secretly visited him one night and threw a sack of gold through the window. With the money the man arranged an honorable marriage for his daughter. St Nicholas also provided gold for the other daughters, thereby saving the family from falling into spiritual destruction. In bestowing charity, St Nicholas always strove to do this secretly and to conceal his good deeds.
During his life, the saint worked many miracles. One of the greatest was the deliverance from death of three men unjustly condemned by the governor, who had been bribed. The saint boldly went up to the executioner and took his sword, already suspended over the heads of the condemned. The governor, denounced by St Nicholas for his wrong doing, repented and begged for forgiveness.
Abayea Pelt is the office manager and receptionist for Sojourners, and an active member of St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, D.C.