A Healing Touch

St. Nicholas was born around the year 280 in the busy port town of Patara, Asia Minor, which is now southeast Turkey. Nicholas’ parents were well-to-do merchants, and known for their generosity. They were Christians, a minor religion in those years of the Roman Empire. Stories tell that even as a baby, Nicholas seemed touched by God. This is a tale of a miracle he performed when he was a young child.

“Only goodness and kindness will follow all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come,” young Nicholas recited, his voice clear and sweet.

“And which psalm is that?” his mother asked.

“Psalm 23,” Nicholas answered promptly.

Nicholas was seven years old, and his parents, Nonna and Theophane, wanted the best education for him. Nonna taught him the Holy Scriptures herself.

A bit later, he was off with his father on the streets of Patara. The smell of the sea filled the air and the sun cast diamonds of light on the great waters. In the distance they could see a ship leaving the harbor.

“Later today, we’ll visit a family whose home burned down. They’re living with relatives, but they have very little. Your mother learned of them yesterday. We’ll take food and clothing and see if they are in need of money also,” Theophane said.

Nicholas nodded. He was used to going with his parents on such errands. Throughout their city, they were known for giving and helping those in need. Nicholas took it for granted.

Theophane noticed a woman walking toward them. He didn’t know her but had seen her before. Her left hand hung limply at her side as she struggled with a heavy bundle with her right.

“We should help her,” Nicholas said.

Before Theophane could reply, the woman hurried up to them and knelt down before them.

Nicholas drew closer to his father. Theophane, greatly troubled by her actions, asked, “Can I help you?”

“Please, let the child touch my hand,” she whispered. With her good arm, she held up the withered, limp hand towards Nicholas. “I heard that he is a special child. Maybe it will help if he would touch it.”

Nicholas looked uncertainly at his father. Theophane drew in a deep breath, taking in the significance of her request. He hesitated. But perhaps this is what God wanted….

“Go ahead, Nicholas,” he said.

The child stretched out his small, smooth hand and touched hers.

She cried out. “Oh! I feel warmth! I feel life in it! Thank you!  Thank you! You are indeed a most special child! Thank you!”

The woman hurried down the street, waving her hand like a freedom flag.

Nicholas and Theophane watched her go, and then walked on. Neither spoke.

What, wondered the father, would become of this wondrous child?