St. Nicholas, patron saint of the Occupy movement?

by Joshua J. McElwee

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Despite the continuing Occupy protests taking place across the country, some have observed that those of us of the Roman bent aren't quite as involved as those of other faiths.

That observation has Tom Beaudoin, a theologian at Fordham University who blogs over at America magazine, asking "Where are all the Catholics?"

Noting that a meeting of Occupy Faith NYC, a coalition supporting the Occupy Wall Street protests, saw few Catholic churches or organizations show up yesterday, Beaudoin encourages people to support a new group: Occupy Catholics.

Take a look at the group's website. They're organizing a novena to St. Nicholas in support of the occupy movement until the saint's feast day, Dec. 6.

The organizers calling forth of Nicholas may be particularly appropriate. A fourth century saint, Nicholas is of course most remembered as the inspiration for Santa Claus because of his gifting of coins in shoes.

But Nicholas was also dedicated to helping the poor. Legends hold that he once threw gold coins into the window of a poor family and saved three falsely accused people from execution.

He also is interestingly said to have had something of a violent moment during the council of Nicea in 325 AD.

At that council, Arius, an early theologian who would later be deemed a heretic, was invited to speak to explain his understanding of the relationship between God the Father and Christ the Son. Proclaiming "there was a time when Christ was not," Arius taught that Christ had not existed before God the Father created him at some point in history.

Listening to Arius describe his position, Nicholas is said to have walked across the chamber and slapped Arius in the face.

The incident briefly cost Nicholas his role as bishop of Myra.

So, maybe he's not the perfect saint for the occupy movement. But who is? Anyone feel like joining in prayer this week?

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