Storytime: this is why Sinterklaas is the patron saint of Zoetermeer

Perhaps you have never thought about it: Zoetermeer has a patron saint. And this patron saint is none other than Nicolaas van Myra, in other words… Sinterklaas!

Zoetermeer churches

On the website Zoetermeeractive we can read that since 1200 there has been a chapel on the spot where the Swaert Sloot (Zwaardslootseweg) and the Broekweg meet. This chapel was dedicated to Nicholas of Myra, a Roman Catholic bishop who lived at the beginning of the fourth century. In 1250 a new church was built in Zoetermeer, on the spot where the current Oude Kerk in the Dorpsstraat is located. This church was also dedicated to Nicholas of Myra and it stood there until about 1785.

Choice for patron saint

But why does Zoetermeer specifically have Nicholas van Myra as its patron saint? The choice of Nicholas as patron saint says something about the population of Zoetermeer at that time. Nicholas was the patron saint of, among others, skippers and fishermen, which indicates that many Zoetermeer residents earned their money with these professions. We read through another source that Nicholas was also the patron saint of thieves and murderers, but we will leave that aside for this story.

Wonderful stories

If you read about this Nicholas of Myra, you will come across a lot of wonderful stories. For example, Nicholas’s mother would not have been able to have children, but because she promised God that her child would dedicate his/her life to faith, she nevertheless became pregnant. As a baby, Nicholas could have stood and held out his hands to the sky. He would also have refused to drink from his mother’s breast on Wednesdays and Fridays. These were the traditional days of fasting. Then there is also a bizarre story in which Nicholas’s mother accidentally left him in a bath of boiling water, and Nicholas came out unscathed. A remarkable youth, shall we say.

Legend of Sinterklaas

Nicholas van Myra is the figure who inspired the Sinterklaas story. In the stories about Nicholas of Myra there are some similarities with the well-known Sinterklaas traditions. Nicholas of Myra, for example, as a bishop would have been a real benefactor to poor people threw in bundles of money. This was also the case with three young girls who threatened to end up in prostitution because their father could not pay a dowry. Nicholas threw three bundles of money through their window. The bundles ended up in their shoes. This is where the tradition of putting the shoe seems to have come from. Funny right? Too bad we only get coins made of chocolate these days.

You can read more here about the catholic Nicholas of Myra.

Sinterklaas animations

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