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Newly found tomb may be final resting place of St Nick, say Turkish archaeologists

A previously unknown tomb – which Turkish archaeologists say may contain the remains of St Nicholas, believed to be the inspiration for Santa Claus – has been discovered beneath the mosaic covered floor of a church in Turkey.

The church where the tomb is located is in Demre, previously known as Myra, in the province of Antalya, the same region in which St Nicholas – famous for his acts of charity in giving gifts to the poor – is believed to have have been born and lived during the fourth century.

Cemil Karabayram, the head of Antalya’s Monument Authority, said the shrine was discovered during electronic surveys showing space beneath the church

“We have obtained very good results but real works start now,” he told the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News. “We will reach the ground and maybe we will find the untouched body of St Nicholas.”

The remains of St Nicholas are traditionally believed to have been stolen from the church by Italian sailors during the 11th century and taken to the crypt of the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, Italy. Turkish experts, however, now believe those remains belonged to a priest and not the saint.

National Geographic report that a representative of the St Nicholas Center, a Catholic institution dedicated to the legacy of St Nicholas, said the remains of St Nicholas are in the Basilica di San Nicola “until proven otherwise”.

“This speculation is very premature. If relics are found, they would need to be dated and examined by international experts,” they quote Carol Meyers as saying.


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