When I started researching fertility saints, I was surprised to find St. Nicholas included in the list. It makes sense though- he is a serious do-gooder, gift-giver, and he is the patron saint of children! He was a 4th Century Greek Bishop and is an important saint not only to Catholics but to the Eastern Orthodox as well! Other religions that acknowledge St. Nicholas include Anglicanism, Baptist, Oriental Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, and Methodism.
Maybe his general acknowledgement and veneration stems from the fact that his secret gift-giving was the inspiration for our modern understanding of Santa Claus. Growing up, however, I actually thought of them as two separate special gift-givers.
My parents raised my brother and I to celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas on December 6th in a very special way. The night before St. Nicholas Day we would leave our shoes outside our bedroom door, and in the morning we would have little gifts from good old St. Nick. Some people also leave out carrots or hay in their shoes for St. Nicholas’ donkey to eat. I love having special Advent traditions like this to make the whole month preceding Christmas Day more special!
Who was St. Nicholas?
Nicholas was born in the third century in what is now Turkey (it was Greece then). His wealthy parents died when he was young and he used his entire inheritance to take care of the hungry, sick, and poor. He became a Bishop while still a young man and was known especially for his charity and kindness to children.
How did he inspire Santa Claus? Well the stories of his life include lots of secret gift giving. Like, throwing a bag of gold through the window overnight. He always did his good needs in secret with no hope of being rewarded in return. There are also many stories of him protecting and rescuing children.
In many countries in Europe St. Nicholas’s day is the primary day for gift giving during the holidays. Children leave their shoes out (as I did growing up!) and receive small gifts.
St. Nicholas & Infertility at Chistmastime
For those of us challenged with lengthy journeys to our babies, the holidays can be a rough time. We remember the joy and magic we grew up with, and we can’t wait to recreate for children. Instead, we struggle through multiple family gatherings where auntie always asks, “when are you two going to have kids?”
If you’ve shared your “infertility” journey it can be easier, although people might be filled with unhelpful advice (“just relax!” “just adopt!” “have you tried this position . . .?”). If you haven’t shared you might find yourself feeling even more alone as you can’t answer their questions honestly.
The truth is, the holidays can be really hard when you want a baby and it seems like it isn’t happening. BUT, the holidays shouldn’t be that way. They should be filled with joy, excitement, and a reminder that miracles can happen. THAT is the kind of holiday I want for myself and that I want for YOU.
Well, I think its time we asked St. Nicholas for a little help getting through the holiday season. I think we should ask him – on his feast day of December 6th no less- to fill us again with child-like wonder and awe. To grant us faith and trust in God. AND, to bring us a gift- the miracle child we pray for! We don’t know how that child might come to us or when, but boy St. Nick, are we putting our shoes out! Below is an original prayer I’ve written to St. Nicholas to ask for a child. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you can find the grace and blessing to enjoy this holiday season, and every holiday season. The magic and hope is out there.
I believe that Christmas is a time for miracles, and I hope you do too!
A Prayer to St. Nicholas for a Child (at Christmastime)
Generous St. Nicholas, you are the joy of little children, and the bearer of sweet gifts.
Please grant me the grace in my heart to be childlike once more.
Grant me the happiness, wonder, and awe, to enjoy the beautiful world that God has gifted us with.
Fill my heart with faith this Advent season, and help me to trust in the journey.
As your feast day prepares us for the Christmas season, so prepare my heart and faith to be strong in my time of waiting.
I ask you, St. Nicholas, for the greatest gift. The gift of a child.
Please place my request before the throne of Jesus, so that he may hear and answer my deepest request.
Continue to intercede on by behalf until my healthy and happy child is in my arms.
Obtain for me the grace to be peaceful and joyful during my waiting.
And, this advent season, bring me in reverence to the Holy Child of Bethlehem.