St. Nick and Sex Slavery

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st nick This is St. Nicolas, Bishop of Myra(modern day Turkey), the historical figure who served as the inspiration for Santa Claus. Nicolas lived in the 4th century of the Common Era. Yesterday, December 6th was his feast day in the Western Christian Calendar.

There is a story told about a man in Nicolas' neighborhood. This man had three daughters, but he was too poor to afford a marriage dowry for them. Marriage dowries were common practice then and without a dowry, a young woman could not get married. In a patriarchal society, being unmarried, a woman was generally only left with the option of prostitution. Myra was a port city so prostitution, drugs, and crime were rampant as they are in port cities around the world today.

Nicolas is said to have secretly thrown three bags of gold over the wall of this father's house to cover the marriage dowries of his three daughters, allowing them to escape a life in the shadows of the black economy. This story of Nicolas giving gifts in secret is the basis for the practice of secret santas and gift giving that we think of around Christmas time.

I thought of St. Nicolas today as friend of Beams & Struts Gayle Young posted this link on Facebook account. It's an NPR interview with two women who have escaped a life of sexual slavery. In the era of flattening globalization, all of our human tendencies (from the good to the most barbaric) are now spread around the world. Rather than imitating Coca-Cola St. Nicolas, we might consider ways in which to pattern our lives on the example of Bishop Nicolas of Myra.

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