Gioiosa Marea and St. Nicholas
Diana Cimino Cocco - CC4.0
A legend tells how St. Nicholas became the patron saint of the city of Gioiosa Guardia.
The patron saint of Gioiosa Guardia was initially St. John the Baptist. An old legend explains the reason why the Patron Saint was replaced.
It is said that a great famine afflicted Gioiosa Guardia. The inhabitants no longer knew which saint to turn to, when one day they saw a sailboat far out on the sea approaching the beach and, arriving there, unloading a large quantity of wheat. The inhabitants of Gioiosa Guardia went down to the navy, offering their wealth in exchange for wheat. The captain refused any compensation and distributed the grain, without saying who he was or where he was going. After a few years, some inhabitants of Gioiosa went to Bari for business. Entering a church, in an image of St. Nicholas they recognized the merchant who had saved them from famine. Back in the village, they recounted the recognition: no one doubted that the captain was Saint Nicholas, who was proclaimed the new Patron of the city.