A Turkish archaeologist has called on his government to demand that Italy return the bones of St Nicholas to their original resting place.
The 3rd Century saint – on whom Santa Claus was modelled – was buried in the modern-day town of Demre in Turkey. But in the Middle Ages his bones were taken by Italian sailors and re-interred in the port of Bari…
While Christmas is by and large not celebrated in Muslim Turkey, the Christmas figure of Santa Claus certainly is in the Mediterranean town of his birth.
He was born in what was then the Greek city of Myra in the third century, and went on to become the local bishop, with a reputation for performing miracles and secretly giving gold to the needy – on one occasion being forced to climb down a chimney to leave his donation.
After his death he was canonised as Saint Nicholas, and venerated in much of the Christian world. But when Myra was occupied by Arab forces in the 11th Century, Italian sailors came and took the saint’s bones to the port of Bari, where they remain interred to this day.
I know, I know – everyone should have the right to get their favorite superstitious bones back.