Is Santa Claus Real? At Least His Inspiration, St Nicholas, Likely Was

James Marshall
December 6, 2017

The fragment analysed by the researchers belongs to Father Dennis O'Neill, of St Martha of Bethany Church, Shrine of All Saints, in Morton Grove Illinois, US.

Prof Tom Higham, a director of the centre, says this is unlike many such relics which often turn out to be much later inventions.

The radio carbon dating tests, for the Oxford Relics Cluster at Keble College's Advanced Studies Centre, have confirmed that the bone is from the correct era for St Nicholas.

Bones long believed to have been those of the real Father Christmas might be genuine, according to researchers at the University of Oxford. In some countries, such as Germany, children receive candies and small gifts not on December 25, but on Saint Nicholas' day, the anniversary of the saint's death, believed to have happened December 6, 343 A.D.in the town of Myra in modern day Turkey.

"This bone fragment, in contrast, suggests that we could possibly be looking at remains from St Nicholas himself", says the Oxford archaeologist. According to the results of the new study, the ancient relic does date from the fourth century AD, which lines up with calculations about St Nicholas' death.

Most of his remains are in the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, Italy, and though they have been there since 1087, several churches around the world have acquired some of the fragments.

But the popularity of the saint, and the associations with Christmas, have seen many fragments of bones being taken to other locations, raising questions about how many of these are authentic. The nearly 500 bone fragments in Venice have already been identified as complimentary to the Baru collection.

The Oxford team carried out a series of tests on a fragment of a pelvis, which has come from a church in Lyon, France.

The Bari collection doesn't include the saint's full pelvis, only the left ilium. However, analysis of the Father O'Neill bone fragment showed that it was part of the left pubis, acting as further evidence that both bones could be from the same person - perhaps the one and only Santa Claus. "We can do this using ancient palaeogenomics, or DNA testing".

The archaeologists' work has revealed that the bone has been venerated for nearly 1,700 years, making it the oldest relics that the Oxford team has ever analysed. December 6 is celebrated in many European countries, particularly in the Netherlands, as St. Nicholas Feast Day and involves giving of gifts to children by their parents.

"Science is not able to definitely prove that it is, it can only prove that it is not, however", Higham said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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