You could describe Agios Nikolaos as a local boy who made good, since he was born in the nearby Lycian city of Patara and became bishop of another Lycian city Myra (now the Turkish town of Demre). Both places are today about an hour by boat from Kastellorizo.
Nikolaos has become famous all over the world as a performer of miracles ("Nicholas the Wonderworker") and a secret giver of gifts. The German name Sankt Niklaus became the English Santa Claus or Father Christmas. Because of his legendary (or mythical) exploits he has been adopted as the patron saint of children, students, sailors, fishermen, merchants, the falsely accused, prostitutes, repentant thieves, pharmacists, archers and pawnbrokers, not to mention several places such as Russia, Aberdeen, Amsterdam and Liverpool.
He is particularly revered in Greece as the patron saint of mariners, and there are innumerable churches and chapels dedicated to him around its shores. On Kastellorizo he is celebrated at the twin churches of Saints Nicholas and Dimitrios, near the Knights' Castle on the Kavos headland.
Saint Nicholas of Myra (Άγιος Νικόλαος, Agios Nikolaos, "victory of the people", 270 - 6 December 346) was a contemporary of Emperor Constantine the Great (circa 272-337) and his mother Agia Eleni (Saint Helena, circa 246/50 - 18 August 330), who together as Saints Constantine and Helena are credited with initiating the christianization of the Roman Empire.
Nikolaos is said to have performed a miracle in 325 at the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea which was convened by Constantine. Presumably the two men must have met at some time. Since Agia Eleni also travelled this way on her expedition in search of religious relics (for which she has become the patron saint of archaeologists), it is likely that she visited Myra. Constantine is said to have granted Nikolaos' petition for the reduction of taxes in Myra.
Despite Nikolaos' legendary kindness and humility, it seems he had little tolerance for the old pagan religions, and is said to have destroyed several temples including the renowned Temple of Artemis in Myra, the largest cult centre of ancient Lycia.
In this icon, Nikolaos is depicted as an older man with the customary white beard, bishop's vestments and red cloak and holding the Gospels. He wears a crown rather than the usual bishop's mitre and stands on a chequerboard floor against a golden background. As in many icons of Nikolaos, Christ (left) and the Virgin Mary (right) float on clouds above his shoulders.