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The tomb of St. Nicholas, the real Santa Claus, is discovered in Turkey

Researchers report the discovery of the final resting destination of the saint who forged the legend of Santa Claus.

Inside the ruins of an ancient church in southern Turkey, a group of archaeologists reported the surprising discovery of the tomb of St. Nicholas, the saint who forged the legend of the beloved Christmas character, Santa Claus.

Although according to the experts’ investigations, the saint’s remains had been buried in a 4th century AD church in the Turkish province of Antalya, the man’s remains were allegedly stolen some 700 years after his passing, making the specific place where he was originally buried a total mystery.

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The Church of St. Nicholas, located in the town of Demre, was built in 520 AD over an older church where the saint served as bishop. Then known as Myra, the small town became a popular Christian pilgrimage site after St. Nicholas’ demise in 343 AD.

By 1087, the saint was illegally taken from Myra, leaving only some remains and a broken sarcophagus. Despite this, the church of St. Nicholas in Demre has survived for over a millennium; in the late 20th century a special team started archaeological excavations.

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Remains of the tomb of St. Nicholas discovered

The chairman of the Antalya Regional Cultural Heritage Preservation Board, Osman Eravşar, reported on the discovery of the exact location of the tomb of St. Nicholas at the base of a fresco of Jesus. In this report, the official noted that the current excavations revealed “the ground on which St. Nicholas’ feet stepped” from the original church.

“When the sill floor slab (overlaid in the 1970s) was removed, an excavation was carried out to find out what was underneath. The result was a floor covering of the church from the early 4th century. The present church was built later. There are some architectural traces in various parts of the early period structure, but there were no traces in terms of floors. It is an emergent floor, perhaps from an earlier stage,” Osman Eravşar reported.

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It was here where St. Nicholas originally rested. When the remains of the saint were removed in the 11th century, they also set aside some sarcophagi, hiding their original location.

“His sarcophagus must have been placed in a special place, and it is the part with three apses covered with a cupola. There we have discovered the fresco that represents the scene in which Jesus holds a Bible in his left hand and makes the sign of the blessing with his right hand,” the official pointed out.

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Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva News

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