Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of Lecco. We celebrate him on 6th December. On that day all children receive great red apples to celebrate him.
Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of Lecco and the Basilica of the city is dedicated to him.
Walking along the lakefront we can admire his golden statue placed directly in Lake Lecco in the Punta Maddalena area.
All the people who were born and live in Lecco, or have children attending school here in the city perfectly knows that St. Nicholas is the saint patron of Lecco. In fact on 6th December all the schools close to celebrate the patron and all the children receive the great red apple of St. Nicholas.
But… do we know where St. Nicholas come from and his history? Let’s find out together!
Who is Saint Nicholas?
This Saint, venerated by the Catholic and Orthodox Church, is known in so many ways, but in the end he’s always the same person, even if he is called St. Nicholas of Bari or St. Nicholas of Myra.
And the amazing thing, we’re sure it will leave you some amazement, is that his person gave birth to the world-known red dressed figure with the white beard we await for Christmas. Well, yes … Santa Claus!
Where and when was San Nicolò born?
St. Nicholas was born in the town of Patara in Asia Minor, the present Turkey, around 260 AD, from parents who educate him since childhood to the reading of the Holy Scriptures. He grows virtuously and when unfortunately still younger loses his parents, he decides to devolve the inheritance for charitable works.
It remembers a father who had three daughters to marry, but he did not have the meoney to do so. As soon as Nicholas get familiar with the three daughters were destined for an unworthy life to recover the necessary money, one day at night he left a cloth full of gold coins in the man’s house through the window of the house, thus the older daughter married.
The same gesture Nicola repeats for the other two daughters, and so his fame of a man of charity and benevolence begins to spread in the city of Myra where he lived.
San Nicolò Bishop
It was 300 AD when Nicholas became Bishop of Myra. Christianity was still not legalized in the Eastern Roman Empire, and Nicholas was named bishop in a domus ecclesiae, community home, or houses of aristocrats who had embraced the Christian religion.
And how did the election take place?
The bishop of Myra died and all the bishops of the district had gathered in a domus to decide whom to elect. During the night, one of them in the dream had a revelation, that is they would have to elect the first young man who would have crossed the door of the house the next day. And so it happened: the morning after the young Nicholas first walked the door of the domus and became the Bishop of Myra. Due to this he is St. Nicholas of Myra.
The persecution of Diocletian and the Council of Nicea
Historical sources tell us that in 303 AD the emperor Diocletian decided to oppress Christians and even Nicholas suffered this persecution and was imprisoned.
But instead of losing heart, as Metafraste wrote in 980 AD, Nicola reacted by encouraging Christians to resist in faith.
Other historians, such as the Byzantine Niceforo Callisto, show us Nicholas with the signs of martyrdom and torture.
Under the leadership of Constantine, the Christian situation improved considerably. Indeed, on June 23rd of 318, an edict was issued that allowed condemned people by persecution to appeal to the bishop. But this edict sparked a controversy within the church about the figure of the Trinity and Arius, priest of the Alexandrian Church, sparked the schism. (We do not go here to tell about different doctrines).
To resolve the issue, the Emperor convened the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, the first ecumenical council of the Christian world, which Nicholas also participated to. He fought strongly against Arianism.
Why St. Nicholas of Bari?
There is no certainty about the date of his death, but it is to be considered around 355 AD.
The bishop’s mortal remains were buried in Myra’s Cathedral and stayed there until Myra fell into the hands of the Saracens.
In 1087 a naval expedition departed from Bari to bring the relics back to Christian land. It was May 9 when half of the mortal remains arrived in Bari, where are still hosted.
It’s less well-known that even the commercial antagonists of Bari, the Serenissima Republic of Venice, made an expedition to Myra and recovered other bones of the Saint, which are housed in the Church dedicated to him in Venice, the church of San Nicolò Lido.
There are relics of Sat. Nicholas in Lecco?
The Basilica of Lecco hosts as relic of the Saint the Manna of St. Nicholas.
You will wonder what it is, as we have been asked for. And we clarify you immediately: the St. Nicholas’ Manna is a purest liquid where the remains of the saint floating when the sailors of Bari found his tomb.
Image © eccoLecco
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Articolo aggiornato il 2 October 2023 da eccoLecco
Why do children of Lecco receive apples on St. Nicholas day on December 6th?
It is a tradition for all the children of Lecco to receive the apples of St. Nicholas: large and red, depicting the saint with his white beard and the miter.
Why the apples?
Among the various legends, it is said that Nicolas donated to each of three poor and hungry children an apple each. During the night these apples became golden apples.
Here is how this tradition is born, thus evoking memories in each of us.