Remains of Santa Claus may have been found in Turkey

St Nicholas Church

St Nicholas Church

Turkish archaeologists believe they may have discovered the remains of St. Nicholas - from whom the legend of Santa Claus emerged - beneath a church at his birthplace in southern Turkey, an official said Thursday.

An intact tomb has been found underneath Saint Nicholas Church, in the Demre district of Turkey's south-west province of Antalya.

Cemil Karabayram, the director of Antalya's Monument Authority, said that the shrine was discovered during scientific and technological works.

The remains of St. Nicholas were said to have been taken to Bari, Italy, in 1087 when the former Greek town of Myra (now Demre) was invaded by the Seljuk Turks.

The character Santa Claus is based upon St. Nicholas, a bishop in the Hellenic 4th-century city Myra, now located in Turkey.

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Turkish researchers now claim the wrong bones were moved.

That would be of interest to all the Christians who think they have visited Nicholas' resting place in Bari, Italy.

"If relics are found, they would need to be dated and examined by worldwide experts".

A Christian bishop, Saint Nicholas was known for his gift-giving and generosity, especially towards the poor.

Karabayram added that he is very optimistic about uncovering Saint Nicholas's remains, but warned it will take some time to scale each tile one by one and remove them as a whole in a mold.

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He famously said: "The giver of every good and flawless gift has called upon us to mimic God's giving, by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves".

There are several days and other holidays between now and Christmas, but the holiday season is already off to a rough start with Santa Claus being found dead. It's said that he'd put coins in the shoes of anyone who left them out for him on his feast day, December 6.

It was only in the 16th century that St Nicholas was popularised as the legendary Father Christmas.

In modern depictions, Saint Nicholas is presented as a portly old man dressed in red and white with a bushy beard.

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