MARCH OF VIRGINS UP TO THE MOUNT SLEZA
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Miss Purity of Poland, Mary Sokolowska, age 17, answering the 1998 call of St Pope John Paul II to the young people "Take up your Cross!", June 1st, 2014, Wroclaw, Poland
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Gentile da Fabriano: Il polittico Quaratesi della chiesa di S. Nicolò sopr'Arno a Firenze, Storie di S. Nicola di Bari, 1425, San Nicola dona tre palle d'oro alle fanciulle povere. Pinacoteca Vaticana, Città del Vaticano.
ST. NICHOLAS’ MOST FAMOUS ACT: 3 BAGS OF GOLD
Adam English: Digging back to the real St. Nicholas
"(...) The one story that rings true, dr Adam C. English argues, is the story of a destitute family with three girls who were coming of age for marriage. Because the family had no dowry to offer, the girls seemed destined for slavery or prostitution. In fact, as English outlines the history of that era, this was a common situation. By both custom and common laws of that era, the family of a bride must provide a dowry as part of any valid marriage. The tragic result of a family’s inability to offer a dowry was so common that it was not even considered a matter for concern by church leaders. However—Nicholas, after studying his Bible, came to the conclusion that he should become their protector. Christianity requires this kind of compassion, Nicholas decided. Today, such a conclusion seems obvious, but Nicholas became an inspiration to the entire Christian world because of his faithful resolve on this particular point. In the case of the at-risk girls, English writes: Compelled by Scriptures and his Christian convictions, he placed a few gold coins in a small money-purse, tied the string, and in the dead of night tossed it through an open window into the house. When the miraculous gift was found the next morning, the family praised God and cried tears of joy. Because there were three daughters, Nicholas repeated his generous act three times."
"There's nothing exactly like that story from other saints in that era. At that time, the most popular saint stories involved martyrdom in which the saint would die in some gruesome way. Or, there were stories of rigorous monks who went out in the desert and denied themselves in heroic ways. But here was a story about Nicholas anonymously giving something to these three poor girls—girls who no one else in that era would have cared about. He is truly taking the biblical command to look out for "the least among you" to heart in a serious way. He does something that is purely generous and purely good—for people who weren't the concern of society in that era—and he does it without any hope of reward. That story lit up people's imagination. He becomes a gift giver, a patron saint of young maidens, newlyweds and anyone in dire distress. You're down to your very last crust of bread, but watch the window: Nicholas may yet appear to save you. That story of the three maidens was his ticket to fame."