When did St. Nicholas become a saint?

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St Nicholas was born in Greece (now part of southern Turkey) during the third century. He was brought up in a devout Christian family, and his parents taught him values of selflessness and self-sacrifice. Nicholas was especially known for his generosity to people in need (he had a reputation for secretly giving to the poor), his love for children, and his concern for sailors who often worked under some difficult conditions.

Nicholas was persecuted for his faith under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, and died on 6 December 343. A legend began which stated that, after his death, manna (the nutritious substance God miraculously provided for sustenance for the Israelites during their 40 year desert sojourn) formed upon his grave. This manna was said to have healing properties, spawning a new era of pious devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, and of course came to be known as St Nicholas Day.

St Nicholas was never actually officially canonised, as this was not a common practice in the early church, being only instituted in the 12th century. It was common custom in those days for his devoted followers to simply spread word of his generosity and righteousness, thereby creating a larger following. By the Middle Ages, he came to be venerated as "people's saint", and churches and villages were named after him. Thus, his "evolution" into sainthood occurred over a period of hundreds of years.

It should be noted that the church does not create saints. Only God can do that. The Roman Catholic Church "screens" candidates for sainthood, based on whether the Church deems they make good role models. Today, a number of miracles must be verified before a person can be declared a saint.

It should be remembered that, according to the New Testament, all Christ's followers are saints.
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