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Wooden statue of St Nicholas, France, 1801-1900

Many Christians have long believed that the saints are able to plead with God on their behalf. Particular saints are associated with specific illnesses, professions or groups. St Nicholas (301-400), seen here with three young people, is the patron saint of children. Santa Claus is based on St Nicholas, who in the Netherlands was said to give presents to children on his feast day, 6 December. The painted, carved wooden statue shows St Nicholas wearing the clothes of his office as Bishop of Myra (now south-west Turkey). He is also the patron saint of sailors, unmarried women, apothecaries, perfumers and pawnbrokers.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: statue

A sculpture in the round representing human or animal figures or small figure groups; a statuette is a smaller sculpture.

Glossary: patron saint

A saint believed to protect or guide a place or particular group of people.