Saint Nicholas was born in 260ad in Patara, a coastal town in what is now Turkey. The poor knew him throughout the land for his generosity, his love for children and being associated with ships, the sea and sailors. He was eventually consecrated Bishop of Myra, just miles from his hometown. The beloved Bishop died in 343ad.
Images of St. Nicholas in paintings, icons, statues, collectibles, and stained glass often show him alongside three young men in a barrel that he brought back to life after an innkeeper murdered them. He is almost always seen with three bags or balls as well, symbolising the three bags of gold he tossed through the chimney of the home of a poor man in his village for the daughters dowry, so they would not be sold as slaves. Thus he is also seen as the “gift giver”. A ship and the sea are also common symbols of the saint. Western and Eastern depictions of blessed Nicholas differ in style and costume.