At this point however history fades into legend: a nobleman of Patara had become poor and decided to start his three daughters of marriageable age into prostitution because he could not marry them decently; Nicola learned of that situation and on three consecutive nights threw into the man's house three cloth bundles full of gold coins, so that the three girls could have a dowry. On the third night the father stayed awake to discover who the benefactor was, but Nicholas asked him not to reveal what had happened. Also for this episode he is revered as a protector of children.
It is not certain that he was one of the 318 participants at the Council of Nicea in 325: according to the tradition, however, during the Council he condemned Arianism defending the Catholic faith, and in a rush of rage he is said to have slapped Arius. The writings of Andrew of Crete, and Johannes Damascene confirm his faith was rooted in the principles of Catholic orthodoxy.
While Myra was threatened by a severe famine, some ships from Alexandria, laden with wheat, stopped at the port of Andriake on their voyage to Constantinople. Nicholas, then bishop of the town, convinced the crew to unload one hundred bushels to feed his people and assured the sailors personally they would not be punished. Once the ships got to their destination, the merchants weighed the goods and realized that grain was missing. One thousand years before Robin Hood, Nicholas of Myra took from the rich to give to the poor. The episode is told by Michael Archimandrite in the early 8th century AD in the Life of St. Nicholas (one of the oldest and most comprehensive biographies), and was painted in tempera on wood by Fra Angelico in the 15th century.
The three remembered the Bishop of Myra and implored his help: at night Nicholas appeared in a dream to both the prefect and the emperor threatening them of dire punishments if they had harmed the three innocent men. Once released, the three generals went to Myra to say thanks to their saviour, an event represented in a painting by Corrado Giaquinto in 1746.
Nicholas died at Myra on December 6, presumably in the year 343.