Turkish archaeologists believe they may have discovered the remains of St. Nicholas — from whom the legend of Santa Claus emerged — beneath a church in his birthplace in southern Turkey.
According to AP, Cemil Karabayram, the head of Antalya’s Reliefs and Monuments authority, told The Associated Press that they recently discovered a temple below a church and now believe the remains of St. Nicholas may be buried there.
St. Nicholas was born and served as a bishop of what is now the Turkish Mediterranean town of Demre, near Antalya province, in the fourth century. He was buried in the area formerly known as Myra, but his bones were believed to have been stolen and taken to the southern Italian town of Bari.
Karabayram said the temple was discovered through geo-radar surveys of the church that were conducted as part of a restoration project.
“It is a temple that is intact, has not been touched but may have been affected by an earthquake,” he said.
Archaeologists are looking for a way into the temple without harming the 11th-century Church of St. Nicholas, he added.
St. Nicholas was known for his generosity. His legend spread around the world and became interwoven with mythical stories of the gift-giving Santa Claus.
Karabayram said the bones that were smuggled to Bari may have been the remains of another priest.