Russia's Patriarch Kirill praises humility on St. Nicholas' day© Sergey Pyatakov
St. Nicholas. Icon© RIA Novosti. RIA Novosti
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MOSCOW, May 22 (RIA Novosti) - The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church spoke of the importance of meekness during a service on Friday in central Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral to commemorate St. Nicholas' Day.
St. Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, fishermen, children, travelers, the falsely accused and the sick, as well as of the cities of Bari, Amsterdam and Liverpool. He is also the archetype for the British and U.S. version of Santa Claus. He is especially venerated in Russia.
On Friday, the Russian Orthodox Church marks the day when the relics of St. Nicholas the Miracle-worker were transferred from Myra of Lycia in Asia Minor to Bari in Italy in 1087 to save them from being destroyed by the Turks.
Patriarch Kirill said St. Nicholas was known as a humble person, but that meekness did not necessarily mean weakness.
"When we glorify St. Nicholas... we speak about him as a paragon of meekness," he said.
"The modern man believes power is a virtue, while meekness is perceived as a certain synonym for weakness," the head of the Russian Church said, as quoted on the Church's website.
"However the life of St. Nicholas helps us understand what meekness is. In his life story, the saint does not appear to be a person who is weak, or meek in the vulgar, non-Christian interpretation of the word," he said.
"He appears to have been a courageous fighter for the Orthodox faith - he once stopped the sword of an execution
er, raised to behead an innocent person," the patriarch said.
St. Nicholas, revered by Christians throughout the world, was born in the city of Patara, Lycia, Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) in the second half of the 3rd century. His parents were rich and pious, and brought Nicholas up in the Christian faith.
He was a religious child and adult and was subsequently chosen as Bishop of Myra after Archbishop John of Lycia died.
In the year 325, St. Nicholas took part in the First Ecumenical Council. According to church legend, he stood up against the heretic Arius, and, with zeal for the Lord in his heart, not only defended the true faith with words, but also gave Arius a slap on the cheek.
For this he was deprived of his episcopal rank emblems and placed under guard. However the Council decided that the courage of the saint was pleasing to God, and restored him to the office of bishop.
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