Nicholas of Myra – the story of the generals, and of the three innocents – now online

David Miller has kindly made us a translation of another of the legends of St Nicholas, a.k.a. Santa Claus.  This one is the Praxis de stratelatis, which recounts how Nicholas dealt with three generals and also how the governor tried to execute three innocent men.  The narrative displays considerable knowledge of events of people of the reign of Constantine, so must be late antique.

Here’s the translation:

As ever this is public domain – do whatever you like with it!

5 thoughts on “Nicholas of Myra – the story of the generals, and of the three innocents – now online

  1. Thank you! I might add, that A. Blom reports that Cioffari dates it to between the death of Nikolaos and the mid-5th c.

    I wonder how common or unusual it is that a particular wonder should be presented in a distinct account rather than as an item in a Life.

  2. It is clear from 22 that at least in the Emperor’s case, Nicholas had appeared to him in a dream. This remind me of what St. Augustine recounts in chapter 13 of ‘On care to be had for the dead’: “it chanced at Carthage that the rhetorician Eulogius, who had been my disciple in that art, being (as he himself, after our return to Africa, told us the story) in course of lecturing to his disciples on Cicero’s rhetorical books, as he looked over the portion of reading which he was to deliver on the following day, fell upon a certain passage, and not being able to understand it, was scarce able to sleep for the trouble of his mind: in which night, as he dreamed, I expounded to him that which he did not understand; nay, not I, but my likeness, while I was unconscious of the thing, and far away beyond the sea, it might be, doing, or it might be dreaming, some other thing, and not in the least caring for his cares. In what way these things come about, I know not” (the H. Browne translation as “Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight”). Here, in 13, however, Nepotianus at least thinks Nicholas can act cosnciously to intercede.

  3. Interesting thought. I myself remember a dream about someone faraway which later turned out to be true. Although it is more likely that this is someone dreaming of something possible which someone else independently realises is possible and does it.

  4. The theology here is pretty basic “communion of saints,” even though it’s shown in a wonderworking way. If Christians are all part of the Body of Christ, then in Christ we can do all sorts of Christ-like things and help each other in all sorts of Christ-like ways.

    In this case (and if the Greek side of the Church really cared much about mechanism, which it doesn’t), you could say that Christ heard the generals’ prayer, passed it to Nicholas, and gave Nicholas the temporary power to appear in people’s dreams and tell them stuff.

    Usually one does hear this sort of story about saints in heaven, but there are also a fair number of them about living saints (usually wonderworking saints). For example, I can’t say for sure that I’ve heard something like this
    about Padre Pio, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me because he was always doing that sort of thing while still
    alive.

    Of course, the other side of this is that wonderworking saints are usually saints who have gone through a lot of
    suffering and ignominy, so becoming Christ-like enough to be granted certain kinds of deeds is not all fun and games.

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