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Nicholas of Myra: early Christian bishop, who was in the Middle Ages venerated as patron of sailors and protector of blessed marriages (Saint Nicholas).

As Sinterklaas, he remains a characteristic figure in Dutch folklore.

When the Vikings settled on Greenland, they built a church for "Nils", and in 1492, Columbus called a port on Haiti after San Nicolas.

The saint remained of course invoked as protector of navigation, but also as protector of marriage, because he had once given dowries to three girls.

A nice Byzantine story explains this exceptional honor.

It says that Nicholas was ascending to heaven with another saint, when they heard the prayers of sailors in a storm.

It is plausible that he once helped poor girls and attended the Council of Nicaea, but beyond this point, we are entering the realm of speculation.

Of course, this has never deterred people from adding stories they found inspiring.

God rewarded him with not one, but four festivals, whereas his saintly colleague had to be content with only one... After the translation of the relics, Nicholas' popularity spread to the west.Soon, every port belonging to the Hanseatic League, and many others, had a church that was dedicated to the man from Bari.In England alone, nearly 400 churches were dedicated in his honor.Nicholas overtook some of their temples and those of similar deities.For example in Rome, an old church of Nicholas stood at a stone's thrown from a shrine of the on the square that is now known as Largo Argentina.

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(He still is the patron of the Greek navy.) When Russia converted to Christianity, it was put under the protection of Saint Nicholas.

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