Article 5 in the St. Nicholas Loop
In former days before the Fens were drained, the sea came up to the foot of the Hill; and on the Hill itself, at the top of it, stood Feltwell Church. And as it looked out over the sea it was dedicated to St. Nicholas, Patron Saint of Navigators and Sailors. St. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in Asia Minor, A.D. 326, and is a greatly venerated Saint, so much so that in the British Isles alone 372 Churches are dedicated to him. A tale is told that while at sea, on his way to the Holy Land, a, terrific storm arose and the ship was in jeopardy from the fury of the waves; but the Saint rebuked the storm and immediately it ceased. St. Nicholas is also Patron Saint of Children and is known to every child in the land as Santa Claus, which is the German form of the Saints name and was introduced into this country about 1840; the year Queen Victoria married the Prince Consort. The Oxford Dictionary describes Santa Claus as the "Personage who fills the children's stockings with Christmas presents at night." And we like to feel that this great Saint, to whom the Church on the Hill is dedicated, takes part in making children happy. In Art, St. Nicholas is Depicted with a tub at his feet and three children standing in it. While travelling about his diocese during a famine, St. Nicholas lodged with an evil-minded person who, when provisions ran short, stole and killed some children and actually salted them down for food. This dreadful fare was placed in front of the Saint, who at once. perceived it; and going to the tub containing the remains, prayed over it, and three children were restored to life. Whether the tales about his calming the sea and restoring the three children to life are credible, is a matter for every person to decide for himself. But in doing so, it should be borne in mind that the Christian Faith was then at its purest and best; and that wonderful things were done in the Name of Christ. St. Nicholas is Patron Saint of the Great Russian Empire, and, strangely enough, is Patron Saint of Pawn-brokers, who were not held in great esteem. But most surprising of all, the Saint was looked upon by thieves as their Patron; a St. Nicholas Clerk was a cant name for a thief; while Knights of St. Nicholas is, or was, another name for a certain class of people known to us as light-fingered gentry.
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