The beeswax icon is hand-carved with great attention to details. Thanks to the addition of incense during the manufacturing process the icon exudes a light aroma, which is firmly associated in our minds with the calming atmosphere of church rooms.
St. Nicholas is considered the protector of sailors, who turn to him with their troubles and difficulties. He is especially revered by islanders, since most island families are associated with maritime professions. In many countries, however, Nicholas is a Christmas saint as he brings gifts to children and helps families in need.
The icon of St. Nicholas Stridas ("of the Oyster") is kept in the cathedral church of the Stavronikita Monastery on Mount Athos.
The icon was probably thrown into the sea by Catalan pirates in 1306. When it was finally discovered in 1859, an eight-centimeter incision appeared in the saint's forehead, in which an oyster had settled. Thus, the icon was named "Saint Nicholas Stridas or Astridas".
The saint lived in the 3rd century AD. He was orphaned at a young age and inherited a large fortune. Being by nature a philanthropist, Saint Nicholas disposed of his possessions to help the needy, orphans, the poor, widows, and heads of families.
Saint Nicholas wanted to devote himself to an ascetic life, but it so happened that he was elected Archbishop of Myra in Lycia and was engaged in instructing his flock in the way of truth. He even took part in the First Ecumenical Council.
The relics of St. Nicholas are kept in Bari, Italy. Their medical examination revealed the saint's austere and ascetic life, as well as the hardships he endured during his lifetime.
According to legend, during a storm he protected sailors from mortal danger and even resurrected one of them when he was mortally wounded.
St. Nicholas is commemorated on December 6 (19).