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What’s your favorite Santa Clause story?  Nathan Busenitz tells his favorite story of the real Santa Claus, the fourth-century pastor Nicholas of Myra:

Tradition says that Nicholas was one of the bishops attending the great council [of Nicaea]. As he sat listening to Arius proclaim views that seemed to him blasphemous, his anger mounted. He must have asked himself: Did I suffer through all those years in prison to listen to this man betray our beliefs?

His anger got the best of him. He left his seat, walked up to Arius, faced him squarely, and slapped his face. The bishops were stunned.

Arius appealed to the emperor himself. “Should anyone who has the temerity to strike me in your presence go unpunished?” he demanded. . . .

[Consequently,] Nicholas found himself under lock and key in another wing of the palace.

But in the end, the bishop of Myra got the result he wanted. When the arguments were done, the council rebuked Arius for his beliefs. The bishops drew up a statement that came to be known as the Nicene Creed, which affirms faith in the Holy Trinity and declares that Jesus is “of one substance with the Father.”

Perhaps Constantine secretly enjoyed watching someone put Arius in his place. Perhaps some of the bishops admired Nicholas for standing up forcefully, if overzealously, for his beliefs. Nicholas must have had friends and supporters in high places, because when the Council of Nicaea concluded, he was set free and his clerical robes were restored.

(William J. Bennet, The True Saint Nicholas [New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009], 38-40.)

Read the rest at My Favorite Santa Claus Story.