Dr. Jim Denison

Finding Santa’s grave?

Saint Nicholas

St. Nicholas was born in AD 270 in Turkey. He became an influential pastor and participated in the church's First Council of Nicaea in AD 325. Recently, researchers announced that they have discovered a tomb that could house his undisturbed remains.

Many historians thought that Italian merchants stole Nicholas's bones from a damaged sarcophagus during the first crusade in 1087 and took them to a basilica in Italy. However, an elaborate tomb has now been found beneath the church in Turkey where he was buried. It is possible that the Italians took the bones of a different priest, meaning that the real saint's remains are still underground. There are mosaics covering the floor, so it will take time for removal and excavation to prove the theory.

Whether we now know the location of St. Nicholas's grave or not, his legacy is unquestioned.

Nicholas was best known for his ministry to the poor and underprivileged. He was the first in his area to initiate programs for mentally challenged children. He often visited children at night, disguised in a red and white hooded robe, leaving gifts of money, clothing, or food at their windows or fireplaces. He gave gold to three poor young women so they would have dowries and could afford to be married.

The Dutch spelled his name "Sint Nikolass," which in America became "Sinterklass" or "Santa Claus." Dr. Clement Clarke Moore immortalized him in his 1822 poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas." The illustrator Thomas Nast put Dr Moore's description to art, creating the figure we picture as Santa Claus.

If St. Nicholas lived in your community, how would he encourage you to respond to your culture today?

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