The Secret Tomb Of St. Nicholas
Researchers believe they may have found the final resting place of St. Nick. A recent scan of the ground beneath St. Nicholas Church in the Turkish province of Antalya has revealed what local officials say could be a secret tomb. They believe the tomb could belong to the popular Christian saint who helped inspire the legendary character Santa Claus, the Hurriyet Daily reports. The discovery was made using ground-penetrating radar amid local speculation that St. Nicholas, who was born in the church’s town of Demre, previously known as Myra, could still be buried there.
The church, located in the town of Demre, previously known as Myra, is said to have been the original resting place of the famous saint. The process of excavating the ground is expected to take some time though, with workers first having to carefully loosen and then remove the titles. A body previously thought to have been St. Nicholas was moved out of the church in the 11th century and is believed to have wound up in Italy. The past spring some of those relics ― including a gold-encased rib ― left Italy for Moscow, making the relics’ first trek outside of the country in nearly 1,000 years, the Telegraph reported.
Cemil Karabayram, head of Antalya’s Monument Authority, said it will take some time to examine the ground beneath the church, with them having to remove the mosaic tiling. ‘The world’s eyes will be set on here’, he told Hurriyet Daily. ‘We claim that St. Nicholas has been kept in this temple without any damage. We are at the last stage. If we get the results, Antalya’s tourism will gain big momentum. We will start discussions at an international level after the excavations.’
St. Nicholas’ real-life acts of generosity, particularly to children, helped inspire the red and white-suited figure known as Santa Claus who has become a worldwide symbol for Christmas and holiday festivity. The popular saint was born in the third century in the village of Patara, to wealthy parents who taught him Christian beliefs and values before their untimely deaths left him orphaned, according to the St. Nicholas Center. Wanting to live a life of piety, he surrendered his wealth to the needy and dedicated his life to serving God while becoming the Bishop of Myra.