Friday, December 5, 2014

Cardinal Schönborn on the Image of Saint Nicholas

In an article published in yesterday's edition of the Austrian newspaper Heute, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn urged readers to "discover anew the original St. Nicholas." Deploring the commercialization of the Catholic Saint through various advertising campaigns and his subsequent transformation into the pop-culture figure of Santa Claus, Cardinal Schönborn argued for reshaping the image of the 4th century Bishop of Myra to that of the "loving friend of poor children," because, he noted, "there are, unfortunately, far too many children in our world who are in need of our help."

St. Nicholas, Giver of Gifts and Smacker of Heretics
While the image of St. Nichols as benefactor of poor children has etched itself into the collective imagination of most of the western world, it is curious that the other feats attributed to him have received comparatively little attention. The most notable of these include his foot pilgrimage to Egypt and Palestine, his combat against evil spirits and demons, his imprisonment and torture for witnessing to the Faith, and, above all, his having ended a debate with the heretic Arius at the Council of Nicae in A.D. 325 by punching him in the face.

I agree wholeheartedly with Cardinal Schönborn that the image of Saint Nicholas is in desperate need of a revision. Therefore, I would like to propose that Catholics, in addition to his great charity, remember St. Nicholas as the Holy Bishop who smacked a heretic in the face, because there are, unfortunately, far too many heretics in our world who need a solid slap.

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