The Merry Month of May

The Merry Month of May
Favorite Fairy Tales of All Time

Monday, December 7, 2009

St. Nicholas, Patron Saint of Bakers, Brides and Imperilled Sailors, Runs a Race in this Christmas Legend


Grimm’s Saga No. 134: Holy St. Nicholas and the Thief

At Greifswald in Pomerania an image of St. Nicholas hung in the Gertrude Chapel. One night a thief broke into the church, wanted to steal the offering chest but called out to the Saint before snatching the treasure: “O Saint Nicholas, is the money yours or mine? Come let us wager, whoever reaches the chest first wins!” The thief started to run toward the chest but the image of the saint also ran and passed the thief three times, who finally admitted: “My dear St. Nicholas, you won fair and square, but what use is money to you? You are made of wood and don’t need it. I will take the money and enjoy it!” -- Soon thereafter this thief died and was buried. The devils came from hell to retrieve his body from the grave, threw him next to the stolen money chest and finally hung him on a windmill outside of town. The sails of the windmill blew him around and around. This mill was still standing in the year 1633 and always blew contrary to the other windmills standing near by, which were driven by natural means.

According to other folks, it was the caretaker of the chapel that seized the offertory plate and ran a race with the Virgin Mary instead of St. Nicholas.

Legend has it that wherever the devil’s foot touched ground, the fresh grass there was always singed and deep footprints could be seen. When followed, these tracks abruptly stopped and the grass never grew there again. Finally the entire church and graveyard, which had always been a popular pilgrim’s destination, was buried and rebuilt, being incorporated within the fortress’s walls.

Feast Day of St. Nicholas: December 6

There are many legends concerning the saint and various observances. In particular he is venerated as the patron saint of sailors and children. As benefactor of children, he is especially remembered as one bestowing presents, especially on the eve of his feast day, December 6. The number of churches dedicated to him and the many different Nicholas images rendered by artists across the centuries attest to the popularity of this saint.

Translation Copyright FairyTaleChannel.org