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Translation of the holy relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker

On May 22nd (the 9th by the old calendar) the Church celebrates the translation of the holy relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker.

In 1087 A.D. the Turks overran the Greek provinces of Asia Minor and began rampaging through them. The city of Myra on the coast of Lycia, in which the wonderworking relics of St. Nicholas were buried at that time, was also ravished. St. Nicholas appeared in a dream to a righteous priest from the city of Bari, and bid him send a group of his fellow citizens to Myra, in order to transfer the relics of St. Nicholas to Bari. The city of Bari is located in the south of Italy, on the eastern shore of the Italian peninsula, on the Adriatic Sea, and from ancient times was inhabited by Orthodox Greeks.

Translations of the relics of St. Nicholas to Bari
Translations of the relics of St. Nicholas to Bari

A group of Barites traveled to Myra under the guise of merchants, entered the church, and found the shrine with the relics of St. Nicholas overflowing with myrrh. Pouring the myrrh into a container, they took the relics and the container back to their ship and sailed off. The relics of St. Nicholas were trans-ported to Bari in a wooden casket (a particle of which we have in our church together with other relics). The Barites returned to their city on May 9th, and all the inhabitants came out to welcome the relics of the saint with great joy and honor. The relics of St. Nicholas immediately began to work a multitude of miracles. They were placed under the altar of a small church at the seashore. Later a large church was built above the smaller one, and both are standing to this day.

The last Russian emperor, the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, donated generously for the decoration of the lower church containing the relics of his patron saint. Since Russian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land before the revolution always stopped in Bari on the way, in order to pay homage to St. Nicholas, the Russian Imperial government built an enormous cathedral in honor of the saint, and also adjacent lodgings for the pilgrims. After the revolution the pilgrims house was sold to the city, in return for which the city pledged the upkeep of the church and its priest. This majestic cathedral still stands on beautiful grounds in a shady garden.


The altar under which rest the myrrh-streaming relics of St. Nicholas
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