If you have young children around, you may not want them to read this. They would likely be devastated to hear the news that the grave of the historical Santa Claus, whose real name was St. Nicholas of Myra, has probably been found.
For years, it was thought that the remains of St. Nicholas were buried somewhere in Italy. Legend said that his bones were stolen by Italian sailors and carried away sometime in the 11th century. No one could say where in Italy the bones were reburied, though. The discovery of a temple buried beneath the St. Nicholas Church in the Turkish province of Antalya has changed that assumption.
The Turkish church is in the city of Demre, which was built on the ruins of the ancient city of Myra. This is where the historical St. Nicholas lived in the 4th century. It was here that the saint earned his reputation for giving gifts to poor people. Archaeologists have conducted scans of the previously unknown temple, and these tests indicate the presence of a tomb.
Proving the existence of the tomb may turn out to be tricky. To get to them, an intricate mosaic floor would have to be removed. This is painstaking process and requires special approval from the Turkish government. So far, government officials have been supportive of the plans to excavate the temple, but their efforts may be hampered by sceptics who think the scans only show areas of hollow earth beneath the church floor.
The discovery of these bones would be important because they would be considered relics, as are the remains of all saints. The Catholic Church has an interest in finding these bones because they would be an object of veneration by Catholics all over the world. The find could also give a boost to the Turkish tourism industry, which has suffered in the past year after the failed coup that was meant to oust President Erdogan.
It’s too early to say for certain that these are the bones of one of the world’s most famous saints. If any bones are found, they will undergo a series of tests, including DNA testing, to help determine their age and other characteristics.
For now, it’s safe to keep on believing that Santa Claus is alive and well in the North Pole.