During the First
Ecumenical Council of Nicea (AD 325) there was a big argument over the
divinity of Christ. Arius — a heretic — was of the idea that Christ was
not divine, but rather a mere creature. The Council gave him leave to
speak, to defend his claims, and he did, yammering on — I have no doubt —
in a relentless flood of sophistry.
Jolly Old St. Nicholas — oh yes, he was a bishop — wasn’t having any of it. He tried to listen patiently, he really did, but Arius’ speech was just so wrong, that he was compelled to get up in the midst of it and, yep, punch him in the face.
Now if that were the end of the story, we probably wouldn’t know about Saint Nicholas, and our children wouldn’t be asking him for presents. However, after Nicholas was deposed, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary visited Nicholas who was being held in a prison cell for his fist-fight with the heretic.
Our Lord Jesus Christ asked Saint Nicholas, “Why are you here?” Nicholas responded, “Because I love you, my Lord and my God.”
Christ then presented Nicholas with his copy of the Gospels. Next, the Blessed Virgin vested Nicholas with his episcopal pallium, thus restoring him to his rank as a bishop.
When the Emperor Constantine heard of this miracle, he immediately ordered that Nicholas be reinstated as a bishop in good standing for the Council of Nicea. Today we recite the Nicene Creed every Sunday so we know how the controversy played out. The bishops at Nicea sided with Saint Nicholas and Saint Athanasius and they condemned Arius as a heretic.
To this very day, we still recite in the Creed that Christ is “God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father.”