St Nicholas and St Ambrose

December 6 is the commemoration of Saint Nicholas in our Lutheran church. We will name Nicholas in our prayers on Sunday, but since we have John the Baptist scheduled to appear in the lectionary readings, we may not have time to say much about the Bishop of Myra.

Hardly anything is known for certain about this most popular saint. Legends about him abound, growing like weeds from ancient times in a small Greek village to a cult of commemoration in Europe and around the world through stories of kindness to children and of charity to the poor. In 1837 Clemente Clarke Moore, a seminary professor in New York City, wrote a poem for his children, which began with the words,

‘Twas the night before Christmas
and all through the house
not a creature was stirring
not even a mouse.

With that story St. Nicholas was reincarnated as an American holiday and consumer icon. Known as Sinterklaas in the Netherlands, his name was Americanized as Santa Claus, and became solidly associated with Christmas and the shopping season that precedes it.


 As a man of great authority, Ambrose was elected bishop when he was not yet baptized. His legends tell of an eloquent preacher who instructed people with his sermons. The great theologian Augustine of Hippo was baptized by Ambrose.

Ambrose was the first to introduce the singing of hymns as a way of reinforcing and proclaiming the faith. Consider how important the singing of hymns is to Christians of our tribe! We can thank Ambrose for getting the music started.

Another legend of Ambrose says that when he was a baby, a swarm of bees landed on his face! When they flew off, one of them left a drop of honey on his mouth. A nurse decided that this was an sign of the infant’s future eloquence. Today he is the patron saint of beekeepers. In the spring when we begin our beekeeping project, we might think of Ambrose.

The Lutheran Church commemorates Ambrose on December 7, the day of his death in 397.

About Peace Lutheran Church Wayland Massachusetts
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