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Archaeologists In Turkey Believe They've Discovered The Tomb Of Saint Nicholas

Updated August 13, 2019 386.9k views11 items

You and the rest of the Christmas-loving population may have thought that Santa Claus was alive and well, hanging out in the North Pole, prepping for the night he dusts off his sleigh and delivers presents to children the world over. Turns out, his icy home is just a myth – archaeologists have discovered Santa Claus's tomb in the decidedly hotter locale of Turkey.  

Where is Santa Claus buried? As creepy as it may seem, the real-life Saint Nicholas's tomb was discovered in Demre in October 2017. Blame the archaeologists who unearthed it for bringing about the is-Santa-real chat much earlier than you may have expected. But the story is actually fascinating, shedding new light on the life of the man who became known as Santa Claus.

  • Saint Nicholas Might Not Be Buried There At All

    Saint Nicholas Might Not Be Buried There At All
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

    While many are jumping to the conclusion that these archaeologists have definitively found the remains of Saint Nicholas, others are more skeptical. Carol Meyers, founder of the St. Nicholas Center, told the Huffington Post that "the speculation is very premature... If relics are found, they would need to be dated and examined by international experts. The Turks, of course, are very interested in promoting tourism. I’d be very reluctant to jump to any conclusions."

  • Saint Nicholas's Bones Were Believed To Have Been Stolen

    Saint Nicholas's Bones Were Believed To Have Been Stolen
    Photo: Gentile da Fabriano / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    It's something of a surprise that Saint Nicholas's remains may have turned up in a church in Turkey. Many believe that, shortly after the saint's death, Italian merchants stole his body and took it to Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, Italy. Apparently, some fragments of his ribs are kept in this Italian location, and, as recently as May 2017, they've been loaned out to a Russian museum.

  • Some Believe Saint Nicholas's Resting Place Is A Mediterranean Island

    Some Believe Saint Nicholas's Resting Place Is A Mediterranean Island
    Photo: I, LooiNL / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

    The true location of Saint Nicholas's body is a longstanding mystery. In 1993, a team of historians concluded that his remains must have ended up on the Mediterranean island of Gemile. The historians found the remains of a Christmas pilgrimage center, and, based on the fact that sailors used to call the island St. Nicholas, assumed that the saint had been buried there.

  • Saint Nicholas Was The Real-Life Santa Claus

    Saint Nicholas was born to wealthy parents in the formally Greek, now Turkish, village of Patara. His parents raised him to be a devout and dedicated Christian, but they died while he was still young, leaving him with a substantial inheritance. 

    You might expect a young man to spend that money like crazy, but not Nicholas. He decided to live by Jesus's words: "Sell what you own and give the money to the poor." He became renowned for his generosity as he spent his entire inheritance on the needy.

    All his good deeds lead to Nicholas being canonized as the patron saint of children, the hungry, seamen, among other things. His tendency to give gifts of money also made him something of a magical figure, and over time, he morphed into the figure now known as Santa Claus.