The Translation of Saint Nicholas
(Greek Anonymous Account, 13th Cent. MS)
An anonymous Greek account of the
transfer of the Body
of Saint Nicholas
from Myra in Lycia
to Bari in Italy.
Translated by J. McGinley and H. Mursurillo
Bolletino di S, Nicola, N. 10, Studi e testi, Bari: October 1980),
"Translation of relics elicit documents to authenticate the event
and to be read at public commemoration. (...) but no saint's translation
has been graced with such international documentation as Saint Nicholas'.
Practically every Western chronicler of the generation reported this event
of 1087" (Cf. Charles W. Jones, St. Nicholas of Myra, Bari and Manhattan,p.
Beside the short informations given in these Chronicles there are several
detailed reports of the great adventure the Barian merchants and sailors
lived in 1087. Two of them have claim as independent evidence: the report
of the Benedictine monk Nicephorus and the report of John, Archdeacon of
the Cathedral Church of Bari. Furthermore, partial independent evidence
show the "Russian Anonymous" (XI-XII century), the "Greek Anonymous" (XIII
century ?), the "Latin Anonymous" (probably French, Ghent Ms 289). It is
not impossible that in the future would be found something more, if we
think of the great quantity of Manuscripts existing all around the world.
Our work at the Basilica of St. Nicholas, here is characterized
by the effort to collect all the material dispersed in the world and related
to St. Nicholas. Not many people know that Bari, the city in which were
written the most important literary sources on the translation of the relics
of St. Nicholas, doesn't have any manuscript. Our duty (in the framework
of the preparation of the 900 anniversary of the event that had such a
great relevance for the city of Bari) is to furnish our Library and the
city of Bari with the photocopy (or microfilm) of these Manuscripts. Any
help to reach this goal is welcome.
The text I am publishing here was printed as Appendix B in the book
of Eugene R. Whitmore, Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra (Saint Nicholas
of Bari). The genesis of Santa Claus, 1944, pp. 28-36. I would have
liked to contact the author. Unfortunately no indication is given in Whitmore's
book about where and by whom it was printed. It only says that the translators
were professors at Georgetown University, in Washington D.C. My decision
to reproduce part of his work was comforted, however, by the Author's handwriting
on the front page of the book sent to the Basilica: "To the Canon. Basilica
of Saint Nicholas. In grateful appreciation of all the help you gave me
in carrying on this research. Eugene R. Whitmore. Dec. 6, 1944".
The translators worked on the text edited by Gustav Anrich in his monumental
collection of Greek texts: Hagios Nikolaos: Der heilige Nikolaos in
der Griechischen Kirche, Texte und Untersuchungen, vol. I, Die Texte,
Berlin 1913, n. XX, pp.. 435-449. The Mss on which Anrich based his edition
were (C) Cryptensis Gr. Bß IV, XIV century, and (O) Ottoboniano-Vaticanus
393, XIII/XIV century. In the notes he made use of the Translatio Latine
per Nicephorum, both in (F) Falconius' ed., "Sancti Nicolai Acta Primigenia",
Napoli 1751, pp. 131-139, and (P) Putignani's ed., "Istoria della vita
di S. Nicolo", Napoli 1771, pp.551-568; and of the Translatio Latine
per Johannes Archidiaconum according to (S) Surius' ed., "De Probatis
Sanctorum Vitis", 1618, pp. 116-121.
To my knowledge there are two more translations of ancient accounts
related to this extraordinary event. See: Charles W. Jones, Saint Nicholas
of Myra, Bari and Manhattan. Biography of a Legend, The University
of Chicago Press, Chicago / London 1978. The Author gives (pp. 176-193)
a translation from Latin of Nicephorus' narration (Vatican Ms. Lat. 5074,
fos. 5V-10V) Jones' work on St. Nicholas is also by far the best in English
language. The second English translation is mine. See: Gerardo Cioffari, La leggenda di Kiev. Slovo o perenesenii moscej Sv. Nikolaja, Bari,
1980, pp. 135-141. It is a translation from a Russian partially independent
source (XlXII century). We have many friends and many who feel devotion
to St. Nicholas in almost all the English speaking countries. We hope that
our scientific method in searching and s'tudying the sources will be of
some help in separating history from legend.
Fr. Gerardo CIOFFARI OP.
Basilica di S. Nicola, 70122 BARI (ITALY)
Narration of the recovery of the relics of
Our holy Father and Wonder-Worker Nicholas
(1 ) When Alexius was Emperor, and the foreign and infidel hordes
that had migrated through the Roman Empire were being pacified' and the
bold Normans who had voyaged thither had been beaten and despersed, 
certain citizens of the city of Bari, moved by a divine inspiration, purposed
to sail in their merchant ships to Antioch, a city situated in Coele, in
Syria. This they undertook not for selfish profit, but for a laudable and
praiseworthy work - a work worthy of mention, O the marvel of it! For it
delights my heart and what 1 have to say will soar aloft on lightsome wing.
For they had the intention - and bless them for their prudence, bless them
for their good choice! - instead of pursuing mercantile and selfish interests,
to cast anchor at Myra and remove the manna-receiving and fragrant remains
of our blessed, thrice-happy and inspired Father, and so, this accomplished,
to possess and take pride in him as in a great fortune and inseparable
treasure. Now, this was, as a matter of fact, the purpose of our Venetian
brothers also, even though the deed had been accomplished by the men
of Bari. For blessed is not he who begins a thing and does not finish it,
but blessed is he who says and does and accomplishes good. In such wise
it was, then, that they who heard of the plan of the Venetians were the
first to attain the favor. For though the Venetians were bent on taking
that goodly treasure and bringing it back to their homeland, the good God
did not allow it so to be accomplished, but their plan and its fulfillment
was given to the men of Bari, while the conception of the Venetians developed
unaccomplished and unactuated .
(2) Disembarking, then, at Myra, these privileged mariners, after
approaching the sacred and holy grave of the Blessed, and after bowing
down with great humility, as was meet, they made an act of reverence. Then,
after they found monks watching beside the holy grave of the Blessed, they
requested them to make known to them where the saint's body lay. The monks,
thinking that they had made the request in order to reverence the body,
with sincerity and kindheartedness complied with their desire and showed
them the place where the body of the holy prelate was. The monks afterwards
questioned them somewhat sharply "Why you men, do you make such a request?
You haven't planned to carry off the remains of the holy saint from here?
You don't intend to remove it to your own region ? If that is your purpose,
then let it be clearly known to you that you parley with unyielding men,
even if it mean our death. For we have rid ourselves of all fear. We won't
allow this to be done, we are not going to take after the Iscariot who
became a traitor to his own Saviour and Master. Away with any such thoughts!
But in truth how can we be unthinking traitors to our own guardian, to
our protector, our champion, our intercessor? How can we show ourselves
as not submissive, but disobedient servants of our benefactor, our patron
and our father?"
(3) They then who made their request humbly enough as reasonable
men, made reply to the monks in humility: "Why surely indeed we admit to
you that for no other purpose did we disembark here than to take the holy
remains of our inspired Father. We beg you, then, for your acquiescence,
to be our helpers in this, and let not our efforts be in vain". And the
monks replied: "The saint truly will not allow this to come to pass, and
he will not consent to have his body touched. But if you would listen to
our advice, make off from these parts with all speed, before the townspeople
hear of what is going on and put you to death. "
The men that made this request, then, seeing that they had answered
in bitterness of heart, changed their tactics accordingly as it is written
elsewhere: "The best course to be pursued is the one that is the least
obnoxious", and they said: "Look you, that we have not disembarked here
of our own will, but we have been sent by the Pope of Rome and by the Archbishops
and Bishops and authorities at Rome associated with him and the whole Council.
For all of these arrived in our city of Bari with a large host and the
diverse armies of the west, enjoining on us to accomplish this work, and
bring back to the Pope the remains of the saint without fail. Why even
the saint himself, appearing in a vision to the Pope bade him do this with
all haste. And you if you want, accept suitable recompense from us, that
we may depart in peace and benevolence."
(4) After saying this to the monks, when they saw that these
persisted the more in grief and tears and regarded their words as of no
account, they forced their way into the miraculous tomb. The watchers seeing
this unexpected turn of events and overcome with fear and trembling, rent
their garments and pulled at their hair and bears, bewailing their misfortune
piteously, and made as if to inform the citizens of the happening. And
when the men of Bari perceived-this, they put guards at the entrances and
exits of the holy church and, overpowering the monks, took counsel how
they could open the holy tomb of the Blessed. And one of them whose name
was Lupus, a priest holding a glass vial filled with the prelate's sacred
oils, when he saw that his comrades were in distress, let it fall from
his hands and heard it crash upon the stones; and he and his companions
turned toward the vial and discovered it to be intact. Wherefore they offered
fitting praises to God and to His servant and acknowledged with full accord
that the will of God and of the saint acquiesced in the removal of his
remains from there, For the visitors now had full assurance that the saint
was escorting them, and saying:" Here is the tomb in which I lie; take
me then, and depart; for the people of Bari are to be forever protected
by my intercession."
(5) One of them, whose name was Matthew, carried away with desire
and devotion, and bent on carrying off the sacred remains of the Blessed,
rushed upon one of the monks with a sword, saying: "Either show us whether
this is the venerable tomb of the saint for whose sake we have come, or
I shall dispatch you with my sword", and he seized him with his hand and
brandished his sword before him. And one of the monks made answer to Matthew:
"' Why my child, do you assail your brother unjustly'? Be assured, then,
that this is the sacred and venerable tomb of the Blessed from which the
sacred oil wells up. Many kings and potentates, too, especially the rich,
have attempted to do this and have been desirous of carrying off the remains
of the saint; but they were not able, for God and the saint did not allow
them. But now, however, I am much afraid that the words of learning pronounced
by our holy Father are now indeed about to be fulfilled in you, when he
said that he would be carried off to a foreign land and well apart from
us." And the men of Bari, hearing this, questioned the monk with all diligence.
"How might you tell us of this vision?".
And the monk answered: "A year ago, my brothers, our loyal patron appeared
in a vision to three of his servants of the monastery and bade them to
announce to the citizens who through fear of the Persians had fled twelve
stadia into the mountains, to return and dwell in Myra." And if they do
not, in very truth I shall depart into a foreign land." And as he predicted,
so has it now come to pass, Wherefore, sheathe your naked swords and have
done with all strife among us and let there be an end of harsh threats.
And if it has been granted to you to remove the venerable remains of the
saint, go on your way in peace, with all good-will and resignation from
us. For we shall stand condemned, if we do not obey the injunctions of
our holy Father. But we trust, God willing, that he will not allow us,
his servants, to remain entirely bereft."
(6) The aforesaid Matthew with his companions, convinced by these
words, put down his sword, and, taking up a huge mallet, hammered with
great force at the cover of the floor, which was over the oil-exuding tomb,
and straightway shattered it. And digging into the hole, led on by the
welling favor of the sacred oil, they discovered a second cover which was
the lid on top of the splendid chest. When s they
had opened this but half way, fearing to shatter it lest perchance they
be turned to stone, the aforementioned Matthew, unable to restrain the
ardor of his heart, having no care for himself lest he suffer any harm,
beat upon the cover with great strength and shattered it to dust. And when
they had opened it, they saw the glory of God, for they found it filled
with sacred oil, in the presence of Grimaldus and Lupus the priests of
the merchant ships and some of the sailors. And immediately such an odor
was wafted up to them that they seemed to be standing in Paradise. And
not to them alone was the odor vouchsafed, but it pervaded even to the
harbor to those in the ships. Immediately then, illuminated by the perfumes
they recognized that it was unquestionably within their power to carry
off the remains of the saint. After this, Matthew, putting aside all fear
from his heart, fully clothed as he was, descended into the sacred and
holy tomb. And while he was descending within, and dipping his hands into
the sacred oil, he beheld the venerable remains glowing like coals of fire,
fragrant above all fragrance. And taking them in his hand he kissed them
and caressed them endlessly. And he handed them over to the two aforementioned
priests. From these portents it was clear to see that Bishop of Christ
was bestowing himself on the Italians.
(7) The monks who were on watch, when they saw what had happened,
began to wail aloud and cry: "He and he alone was our Father up to now,
and never did he allow anyone to do such things. O how great and inconsolable
an affliction has overtaken us!" And turning to the
saint, they wailed in lamentation and spoke: "Our Lord and most hooly father,
why are you leaving us orphaned of your protection in such dlstress and
necessity, and have become well disposed to strangers and wayfarers, while
to us your servants from our earliest youth, you have
shown yourself unhearing and unpitying? Is it true that you have reckoned
as nothing the ministrations of our fathers and of ourselves, and instead
of our being under the protection of your venerable glory, are you withdrawing
from us such intercessions and favors? Alas for our life, in what darkness
you are leaving us and the See of Lycia! Alas, why did you not allow us
to be given to death, rather than be separated from you! Our benign Father,
thou have become embittered, and, as we see, you have made of thy beloved
sons objects of hate. Alas for our possession! How we shall lament when
we see our children and all our goods rendered nought from henceforth!
To whom shall we flee? Who will render us justice from our enemies? Who
will stand patron over our souls?
(8) At this juncture, Matthew, taking up the sacred remains,
held them carefully. One of the two priests, Grimaldus by name, taking
them as they were and placing them in his cloak, took possession of them
with clear conscience. But his fellow sailors, wishing to carry off a certain
sacred and pleasing ikon which was very old and depicted this most reverend
and holy Father, were unable to accomplish this, in order that they might
not be ignorant of this also, that the servant of Christ in no wise wished
to leave his sanctuary entirely without a share of his holy blessing. And
when the men had been assembled and had taken up their arms, they, together
with the priest bearing the sacred remains on his shoulders, repaired to
their ships, praising the ineffable providence and benevolence and power
of God. When those who were in the boats heard the great force of their
hymn which they were singing to Christ the Saviour concerning this bishop,
with inexpressible joy they accosted and received their fellow sailors,
and adding their own praise to theirs, they lauded their Lord, the giver
of crowns, who so crowned and glorified those who had placed their hope
in him, and who, moreover, pronounced themselves unworthy to have attained
to such a great and divine blessing.
(9) Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the city learned of all that
had happened from the monks who had been set free. Therefore they proceeded
in a body, a multitude of men and women, to the wharves, all of them filled
and heavy with affliction. And they wept for themselves and their children,
that they had been left bereft of so great a blessing. Then they addressed
the men of Bari: "Who are you and from what land, and have you dared to
bring such a calamity upon our See? Whence has come such a conception and
such an affront to us, that you have laid hands on our inspired Father
who has been with us for so long a time, from the time of the great, Christloving
Emperor Constantine, who founded the capital city, so that from time until
now no Emperor or overlord was able to do this? Truly our lord and Father
Nicholas has thought you worthy of great gifts: of leaving us orphans and
journeying forth with you." And unable to completely master their incumbent
affliction, entering the sea, they cast themselves in, lamenting, taking
hold of the rudders and oars of the ships. Then they added tears upon tears
and wailing and unassuageable lamentation to their groans, saying: "Give
us our patron and our champion, who with all consideration protected us
from our enemies visible and invisible. And if we are entirely unworthv,
do not leave us without a share, of at least some small portion of him."
(10) While they were making lament in such and similar wise,
immediately the men of Bari answered most kindly, saying: "Realize, brothers.
that we are Christians, and that the saint appeared to us in a vision and
bade us disembark here and carry away his venerable remains. Andn brethren,
why do you stand frustrated and desolate over him'? Behold, you yourselves
have said, many generations have passed under the protection of the saint,
and you and your fathers have possessed his healings and blessings. But
now his will is to give light to the western world, departing from hence.
And now in place of these remains there is for you his venerable and allholy
tomb whence wells forth the allholy oil, and likewise his venerable
ikon which works great wonders. For reasonably and justly does it happen
that our preeminent city of Bari should possess so great a Father and protector".
Thus did the men in the ships make answer to the people. But the citizens
of Myra, seeing on board one of the monks of the sacred church. running
around him with feeling, struck at him sharply. saying: "You have taken
money to betray our protector and champion".
(11) The men of Bari, then, having taken up the venerable and s holy remains of our blessed and inspired Father,
placed them with great reverence in a very small wooden chest. Then at
sunset, when a favorable breeze had arisen, upon a calm sea they set forth
on their long voyage, and that night they drew nigh to a place called Caccabus
(modern Kekowa). Then they arrived at Majesta (probably the island Meis).
Then they went far out to sea and were hindered by adverse winds; in front
of them lay the north as far as Patara, where the Blessed had received
his birth. Having arrived at that city mid a great storm, they concluded
that the saint did not want to journey with them and was not allowing them
to sail further. Nevertheless, they forced their way twentyfour miles
further, and then, unable to advance more, having met up with a great calm,
they sailed back to the harbor of Perdicca. When they had reached the shore
they found the sea at rest, and the wind which had been adverse when they
were sailing now favorable to them. And they said to one another: "See
that none of us has wished to steal some part of the venerable relics,
but let each one furnish scrupulously what he has taken." The sailors,
moreover who had decided to bind themselves with fearful oaths not to keep
any of the remains of the saint, immediately supplemented the word with
deed. Each of them who had taken some of the sacred remains, made open
confession and after having proffered and placed their portions with the
rest of the remains, were proven clearly to have kept their oaths. From
such an event who would doubt that this was inspired by the Lord, who gave
them courage, and would not fulfill their desires until they had laid the
relics they had taken beside the rest? Thus it can be known that our saint
and protector himself did not wish that any portion should ever be separated
from his remains. O most wonderful and marvelous God who didst not reveal
this by any voice of angel nor sacred visions or apparitions to the sailors,
but through mute testimony thou didst think good to reveal these things,
and thou wast desirous to hinder them until they should place the relics
together with the rest!
(12) After this happened and the winds finally died down and
the sea was calm, they left the shore and sailed to the harbor of Marcianus
(Makri, ancient Telmessos) with joy and a fair breeze. When when they had
crossed the Gulf of Trachea (Gulf of Symi? Between the Island of Symi southwards
to Rhodes), one of the sailors whose name was Disigius thought that the
saint had appeared to him in his sleep and said: "Be not disturbed in any
event, for I shall be with you. Know then, that after the completion of
twenty days we shall be together in the city of Bari." Disigius, rising
from sleep, narrated what he had seen to his fellow sailors. And they,
hearing this, were filled with unspeakable joy and disembarked on the island
of Ceresanus (unknown: ed.). There, after taking supplies on board and
drinking of the very excellent water that abounded in the place, and storing
some on their ships, they sailed away and covered five hundred miles (all
references to "miles" are Roman miles, 1680 yards: trans.) in two days
and one night. Disembarking then on the island of Melos, they refreshed
themselves there and at daybreak resumed their journey.
(13) After this, I know not how, a portent was made manifest
to them, as they afterwards narrated. For when they were at sea, a little
gull came and perched on the starboard side, where the venerable remains
reposed, and most gently and tamely, as thought it had been fostered by
them, alighted on the hands of the captain Nicholas; and then flitting
from his hands, it perched upon the venerable remains, and giving forth
its Iyric song, it caressed the remains tenderly. Ah, my beloved brothers,
how great is the power and wisdom of our Christ which is manifested not
only through the voices of men, but is also sung significantly by mute
creatures and is rendered reverence by them, here mid the venerable remains
of our holy Father Nicholas; for I in truth, its voice was a hymn and the
approach of its beak was an obeisance!
It then flew away, circling to each one of the ships, in the sight of
all the sailors, and rendering them some blessing by its chirping, in that
there was with them our thriceblessed and inspired Father. And thus,
having rendered such service, it straightway flew away, never to be seen
again by them.
(14) Afterwards they disembarked on the island of Staphnos (Staphnu
or Bonapolla; very probably the modern Kaimeni: ed.) and then on the island
of Geraca. Sailing from there, they crossed the Monobasia (Modern Monemvasia
"Epidaurus Limera": ed.) and they arrived at Methone (Modern Modon: ed.),
where they bought supplies, and from there they sped to the island of Sykia.
After refreshing themselves there a while, they quickly set sail and
O the wonder of it, I am awestruck to tell of it they did not land
at any other place or replenish themselves in any way until they arrived
at the divinely-guarded city of Bari itself! Then, arriving at the harbor
of St. George the great martyr, about four miles from the city they set
about to fashion a most beautiful casket in order to place therein the
venerable remains. And this they did.
(15) And when they had come into the city harbor and had placed
the sacred remains in the casket and were welcomed joyously bv the townsmen
and their fellow citizens, they narrated to them how they had acquired
the sacred remains of our holy father Saint Nicholas. And when those present
had heard this and had announced the good tidings to the city, the inhabitants
of Bari on hearing them ran with one accord to see the endless throng at
the harbor on the occasion of such a welcome and unhoped for spectacle.
And the sacred and holy ministers of the archdiocese and the clergy of
the other churches, garbed in their holy vestments and singing a heavenly
hymn, departed straightway for the harbor to receive the holy remains of
the Blessed. Then those on the ships addressed their fellow citizens: "Let
it be known to you, our brothers, that when we took the holy remains from
Myra, we joined in a vow to build a magnificent altar for our holy Father,
where the royal praetorium of our camp is. We ask you, therefore, to
be in accord with us in the decision and promise which we have made"
(16) And when the men of Bari heard this, some replied: "No,
do not put him there, but place the remains in the Cathedral." But others
said: "It is well to do this". While they were discussing the question
with one another, the sailors bade Elias, abbot of the monastery of St.
Benedict, to board their ships. And he did so and paid reverence to the
holy remains, and said to the men on the ships: "Behold, as you see, I
have come to you insisting that you give me the venerable remains, until
the townspeople have reached an agreement, and then I will return them
to you safe and sound." They all acceded to his request straightway. And
then the most august heralds of the city proclaimed a hymn in honor of
the saint most fitting for the occasion and harmonious. And carrying the
casket from the ships, they placed it within the altar of St. Benedict,
while the sailors carefully guarded the monastery gates lest they be deprived
of the holy relics by some stratagem.
(17) And immediately word was sent to the Archbishop Ursus 
who at that time governed the See of Bari, to come with haste. For several
days previous he had been in the camp at Canusium (modern Canosa: ed.).
But nevertheless, when he was informed and heard the story, he went to
Bari with all speed, praising the Lord for what had happened. Then, entering
the city, he went straight to the holy and sacred remains, both to pay
them homage, and also to take possession of them with all zeal. And when
the sailors and the townsmen had learned this, they rushed with one accord
to defend the holy remains. And the Archbishop, therefore, when he had
heard them, was vexed and did not know what to do. And the men of Bari,
as was fitting, sent prudent and wise men to him, saying: "Do not do this,
Father but rather make haste to fulfill the will of your spiritual children."
But he not being moved to assent to their words, but have devised and expedited
a vicious scheme with his cohorts, planned to carry off the venerable remains
by force. And when the ambassadors returned with empty hands and had made
clear to all the archbishop's plan, they seized arms and began to sound
the war cry. In the fighting that ensued there fell two of the archbishop's
men and one of the townspeople, whose souls entered the halls of the just.
(18) The large crowd of citizens immediately bore off the venerable
remains from the monastery of St. Benedict, singing "Kyrie eleison" and
other suitable and sacred hymns. And taking the remains from the gate of
the harbor, they brought them to the royal praetorium and placed them in
the altar of St. Eustratius the great martyr.  And this altar, together
with other sacred altars that were in the praetorium, was razed to the
ground, in order to erect there the holy and sacred altar of our inspired
Father Nicholas, while the aforementioned leader addressed them: ' The
holy archbishop Nicholas himself must be guarded by all these sacred churches
in our whole city. And lest anyone rob his holy remains, let them be guarded
carefully by us under arms, until his venerable and sacred altar be finished."
(19) Be it known therefore that St. Nicholas was translated from
Myra in Lycia eleven days before the Kalends of May and entered Bari on
May 9 at the first evening of watch.
(20) Now I should like to tell you, beloved, how the folk, running
from the four corners of the city, gathered in his church, suffering from
various sicknesses. And there were cured that night and the following morning
fortyseven men, women and children. And one of these was called Adralestus
a man of noble and prominent family of the city of Bari, a victim of a
terrible disease; and another was Armenius who was lame on his left side;
and there were three epileptics, one deaf-mute, two with crippled arms,
two lepers, three paralytics (muoparetoi'?: Trans.): there was also a certain
Pisanus whose hands and feet were distorted. And many others were cured
of whom I cannot give a detailed account. On the third day the people came
in droves from all the environs to honor the sacred remains, as we have
said. Among them seven men were cured up until the fourth watch of the
day. And from the fourth watch till sunset fourteen others were cured.
And on the fourth day twenty-nine others who were suffering dreadfully
were cured. And not only those who suffered bodily ills obtained their
health, but very many others who enjoyed bodily integrity, received conversion
and salvation of soul, of whom I am unable to give a written account .
(21) And on the fifth day our loyal patron Nicholas appeared
in a vision to a certain monk whose name was Mark, of the monastery of
Celius, bidding him to go to Bari and tell the people not to lose heart
concerning the occurrence of miracles, ';For by the will of God I am leaving
the Roman world; but whither I go. I go on a visit, but here I shall dwell
forever". But as another proof that they might know, the following event
occurred. Before sunrise that day a man was cured who was tormented by
an evil and deaf and dumb spirit! On the sixth day the Archbishop of Bari
with four other Bishops of neighboring cities, together with their retinues
of clergy and lay and a huge throng all came to reverence the saint, amid
psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, justly honoring him who was honored
and glorified by the Holy Trinity, and who in their last trials restores
as citizens of heaven and equals of angels his servants and ministers.
(22) And we, after plaiting a crown of praises for the saint,
shall f bring this discourse to an end. Hail, O loyal patron and intercessor
for Christians! Hail, protector in perils and surest succor of sailors!
Hail! helper of those who invoke thee and provider of those who importune
thee for favors! Hail, peer of angels and companion of the holy archbishops.
Hail, shield of orphans and provider of widows! Hail, O thou, who of old
didst render fragrant Myra with the blossoms of thy miracles, and dost
now adorn Bari with the brilliant gleams of thy wonders! Hail, O thou who
hast enriched the land of Italy with thy lightning flashes and dispellest
the gloom of sickness and possession with the brightness of thy prodigies!
Hail, and truly hail. since thou art the champion most loyal in trust and
the most speedy intercessor of all who call on thee! Since thou hast access
to the holy and divine Trinity, deign to guide us in the way of virtue,
and protecting us unscathed and unharmed from the darts and snares of the
enemy and overthrowing all the arrogance and the overweening fraud of our
visible enemies, may thou grant us to accomplish this life without deception,
leading us to that most happy life hereafter, where the jubilant dwell
in Christ Jesus our Lord. Wherefore to Him be all glory, honor, adoration
with His eternal Father and the allholy, good and vivifying Spirit,
now and forever. Amen.
A SELECTION FROM ANRICH'S NOTES
1. Compare the dating in the Tran1slatio latine per
Nicephoram. ed. Putignani. Istoria della vita di S. Nicolo. 1771.
p. 551568: 1087, 10th year of the current Indiction, during the reign
of the Emperor Alexius, of Prince Roger and his mother Sikelgaita, and
of Archbishop Urso; likewise in the Translatio Latine per Johannen archidiaconen, ed. Surius, De Probatis Sanctorum Vitis, 1618, p. l16121:
"1087, 10th year of the current Indiction". Alexius is Alexius Comnenus,
10811118: the foreign hordes were probably the Seljuks.
2 Very likely a reference to the attack of the
Normans upon the Bywantine Empire, which had been inaugurated a short while
before with the victory over the Grecian and Venetian fleets at Corfu,
but which was now being abandoned following on the death of Robert Guiscard
(Wiscard) on July 17, 1085; possibly also to the great success which Alexius,
1083/84. had achieved against the dispersing Norman army under Bohemund.
3. The Venetians accomplished in 1100 their time a Translation
of the remains of Nicholas from Myra; confer the account in: "Recueil des
historiens des croisades". 0ccident T V. p. 254-281
4 Bari, before its conquest by the Normans in 1071, was the
scat ot the Byzantine Catepan; cf. Translatio, Nicephorus: "in curte
dominicas quae dicitur Catepani"; and Johannes Arch.: "ad curiam, quae
dicitur Catepani"; a testimony of the Archbishop Elias, 1089, the church
of St. Nicholas was built "in curte, quae olim praetorium publicum fuerat
(Cidice diplomaticao Barese 1, 1897, p.64 med.).
5 Ursus was Archbishop 1078Feb. 1089; his successor was
the Abbot Elias (cf. ch 16 above). Oct. 1089May 1105; P. B. Gams. Series episcoporium eccl. Cath, 1873, p 856.
6 So also Nicephorus; but Johannes Archd: "in the church of
Blessed Stephen the protomartyr"; about this point Joh. Arch. ceases to
give a parallel account.
7. The Kalends ot May is the emendation of the editor. The
Mss. reading of O and C (eleventh day before the Kalelids of April: about
March 22) can hardly be correct. The text of .Joh. Arch. (in another context)
is "on the twelfth day before thc Kalends of May", i. e.. April 2(), and
seems to be the most accurate. (As a matter of fact the text of Joh. Arch.
is rather corrupt and perhaps could be read "eleventh". Nicephorus has
"the eleventh day of April'').
WORKS ON ST. NICHOLAS IN ENGLISH
ALBRECHT, Otto E., ed., Four Latin Plays of St. Nicholas, Philadelphia, 1935
ANCELETHUSTACHE, Jeanne Saint Nicholas. Translated
by Rosemary Sheed. New York 1962
ANICHKOF, E., St. Nicholas and Artemis. In "FolkLore"
V (1984) 108-120
BIRCH, Walter de Gray, The Legendary Life of St .Nicholas. In "Archaeological Journal" of the British Archaelogical Association,
XLII (1886), pp. 185201; LXIV (1888), pp. 222-234
CARHART, A.S., Saint Nicholas: his Life and Miracles. A
paper read before the St.Nicholas Club of the City of New York, New
CHAMBERS, E.K., The Medieval Stage. 2 vols. London 1903
CIOFFARI, Gerardo, La Leggenda di Kiev. Slovo o perenesenii
moscej Sv.Nikolaia, Bari 1980. It includes the Kievan Legend on the
translation of the relics to Bari. English translation and notes by the
Author (pp. 135-141)
CIZEVSKIJ, D., The icons of St. Nick. Translated from
the German by Hans Hermann Rosenwald, London 1967.
COFFMAN, George R., A new Theory Concerning the Origin of
the Miracle Play, Diss. University of Chicago, 1913. Menasha WI 1914
CRAWFORD, Mary Sinclair, The Life of St. Nicholas by M.
Wace, Diss. Universitv of Pennsvlvania. Philadelphia 1924
CROZIER, E., The Life and Legends of St. Nicholas, the Patron
Saint of Children Paris 1949
DIX, B. Marie, A Legend of Saint Nicholas, and other plays,
New York 1927
EBON, Martin, Saint Nicholas: Life and Legend, Harper
and Row, New York 1975
FOWLER, J.T., Some Legends of St. Nicholas, with Special
Reference to the Seal of Pocklington Grammar School. In "Yorkshire
Archaeological Journal" XVII (1903). pp. 254260.
FRANK, Grace, The Medieval French Drama, Oxford 1954.
GROOT, Adriaan D.de, Saint Nicholas. A psychoanalitic study
of his history and myth, Mouton and Co., The Hague-Paris 1965. Translated
into English by the Author. First edition: Sint Nicolaas, patroon van
liefde Amsterdsm 1949
HARDIN Craig, English Religious Drama of the Middle Ages,
HORSTMANN, C. ed., The Early SouthEnglish Legendary
or Lives of Saints, London 1887.
IRVING, Washington, A History of New Yorkfrom the Beginning
of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty... published by Diedrich Knickerbocker, first published, 1809 [many editions]
JACOBUS DE VORAGINE, The Golden Legend, translated by
G. Ryan and TT Ripperger, London, 1941
JONES, Charles W., Saint Nicholas of Myra, Bari and Manhattan.
Biography of a Legend, The University of Chicago Press, ChicagoLondon
1978. The most comprehensive work on the subject.
JONES, Charles W., The Saint Nicholas Liturgy and its Literary
Relationships. With an Essay on the Music by Gilbert Reaney, University
of California English Studies 27 Berkelev and Los Angeles 1963.
JONES, Charles W., The Norman Cults of Sts. Catherine and
Nicholas, saec. Xl, In "Collection Latomus" CXLV (Hommage a Andre Boutemy),
Brussels 1976, pp. 216-230
JONES, E.Willis, The Santa Claus Book, Walker and Company,
New York 1976.
MC KNIGHT, George H., Saint Nicholas: his Legend and his
role in the Christmas celebration and other popular customs, New York
and London 1917.
PATRICK R. Vincent, The Jeu de Saint Nicolas of Jean
Bodel of Arras. A Literary Analysis, Baltimore 1954. A celebration
of Saint Nicholas: annual exhibition of icons, JuneJuly 1970. Catalogue
by Dick Temple and Elvira Cooper, London 1970
WACE, F See CRAWFORD M.S.
WHITMORE, Eugene R., Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, Washington,
YOUNG, Karl, The Drama of the Medieval Church, vol.
II, Oxford, At the Clarendon Press, 1933. Chapter XXVI: The Miracle
Plays of Saint Nicholas (pp. 307360). The best work on this specific
Source: "The Translation of Saint Nicholas: An anonymous Greek account
the transfer of the Body of Saint Nicholas from Myra to Lycia to Bari
in Italy", translated by J. McGinley and H. Mursurillo, Bolletino di
S, Nicola, N. 10, Studi e testi, Bari: October 1980), 3-17
As indicated in the notes above, this edition is a reprint
of Appendix B in Eugene R. Whitmore, Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra
(Saint Nicholas of Bari). The genesis of Santa Claus, 1944, pp. 28-36.
No indication was given in Whitmore's book about where and by whom it was
printed. This would indicate that, under US copyright law, the text is
now public domain.
This text is part of the Internet
Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain
and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.
Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document
is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution
in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate
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Paul Halsall November 1997