Saint Nicholas Strikes Arius

Old Saint Nick has another side to his character. At the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, the bishops had gathered to judge Arius’ doctrine. They all watched in astonishment as Bishop Nicholas of Myra rose up and struck Arius forcefully to the ground.
For acting in this illegal and shocking manner before the Emperor Constantine, the bishops removed Bishop Nicholas from their council and stripped him of his office of bishop. Legend holds that both the Virgin Mary and Jesus visited him that night in jail, asking him why he was behind bars. “Because of my love for you,” was the reply.
Mary and Jesus restored to him his bishop’s robe and gave him the Holy Scriptures to study while in jail. When Constantine heard of this “miracle,” he restored both the bishop’s office to Nicholas and his place at the council. Not surprisingly, the council ended up siding with Nicholas and against Arius. Arius and the bishops unwilling to agree with the Emperor’s theology were excommunicated and exiled. Constantine was playing for keeps! A few years later he ordered the burning of the works of Arius and made the mere possession of them a crime punishable by death.
So, the real meaning of the Council of Nicaea for the Church is found in the little story of Nicholas and Arius: the people with the right doctrine would strike down the people with the wrong doctrine. The Church would never forget this lesson!
A painting glorifies the assault, its story and the legends around it were presented to subsequent generations as an example to follow. The theologian Augustine would remember this “love” in some of his most influential words:

If, then, we are willing to speak or to acknowledge the truth, there is an unjust persecution which the wicked inflict on the Church of Christ, and there is a just persecution which the Church of Christ inflicts on the wicked ... Therefore she persecutes out of love, they out of hatred... [Saint Augustine Letters, Vol. VI (165-203), Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1955, p. 151-15]

The Twelve Tribes is a confederation of twelve self-governing tribes, composed of self-governing communities. We are disciples of the Son of God whose name in Hebrew is Yahshua. We follow the pattern of the early church in Acts 2:44 and 4:32, truly believing everything that is written in the Old and New Covenants of the Bible, and sharing all things in common.

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