Archeologists Discover Where St. Nicholas Was Buried In Antalya, Turkey
TURKEY – The burial site of the so-called “Santa Claus”, or St. Nicholas has been discovered in Antalya, Turkey in the Byzantine house of worship named after him where the archeological dig is taking place. A wall painting of Jesus holding a bible helped uncover the exact location of the crypt.
The archeological dig of the location where St. Nicholas was buried is currently being carried out in the Church of St. Nicholas, which is seated in Antalya, Turkey.
The Antalya Cultural Heritage Preservation Regional Board said that the topmost orifice of the dome was speculated to have been left incomplete by the Russians in 1850 and looks like the design structure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where tradition holds that Jesus was crucified and ascended.
The sanctuary of St. Nicholas was constructed in 520 AD on the foundation of the spiritual compound where the saint officiated as archbishop after that was conferred upon him by the emperor Justinian I.
Dr. Osman Eravscar is president of The Antalya Cultural Heritage Preservation Regional Board and reported the finding as innovative. He designated the church's construction between the seventh and eighth centuries over the date of 520 AD because of the elevation of sea levels during the Middle Ages. It would thus flood St. Nicholas' early church.
It is presumed there are multiple churches constructed around the site of the archeological dig, the first of which was built during St. Nicholas' time, and then there was another church constructed over that during the 7th and 8th centuries.
While referencing the church building from the 3rd to 4th centuries during St. Nicholas' time, Dr. Eravscar said that the building was concealed 26.2 feet (8 meters) the aftereffect of advancing flood waters from the Mediterranean Sea and enveloped in sedimentary deposits. Eravscar said that during their archeological dig, they struck the very same floor of the building that St. Nicholas stood in.
Dr. Eravscar said, “It is known that in the 14th-century crusades, Bari merchants took the relics of St. Nicholas sarcophagus to Italy to sanctify their city and other relics were taken by the Venetians in the same period...They wanted to tear off a piece from here. On the other hand, they were burning candles around this sarcophagus. Their smudge and oil polluted these places. Again, cleaning works were carried out in the area.”
“At that time, the church was damaged. The tomb was probably opened, his bones were removed, and the sarcophagus was placed in a niche on the side of the chapel. Of course, the original place was not there. His sarcophagus must have been placed in a special place and that is the part with three apses covered with a dome. There we have discovered the fresco depicting the scene where Jesus is holding the Bible in his left hand and making the sign of blessing with his right hand.” The Frontier Post cited him as saying.
Dr. Eravscar said that the incomplete dome has a very similar articulation to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Tradition holds that amid Easter the light falls at an angle that appears over the tomb of Jesus on March 21st during which the priest comes into the crypt and ignites the candle via the natural light and passes the candle to the various church affiliates. Dr. Eravscar believes the identical ceremony took place within St. Nicholas' church building.
When he noticed that a few artifacts of St. Nicholas are presented in Italy and several in the Antalya Museum, Dr. Eravscar stated, “There are probably other bones that are said to belong to him, or at least other iconographic pieces may be found. Also, the church has a special place today for Orthodoxy, yet due to the rising seawater in the area where it is located, the early church is almost 2 meters below sea level. This causes floods from time to time.”
St. Nicholas, who is widely acknowledged as “Santa Claus” was a native to Patara, a significant trade destination of that era. St. Nicholas was born in 300 BC in Asia Minor which was part of Greece, but is now a part of Turkey, on the southern coast.
He was the child of a prosperous wheat trader. As a devout Christian, born into a wealthy family, St Nicholas decided to follow Jesus words in Matthew 19:21-24, which states "sell what you own and give the money to the poor".
Nicholas likely inherited the name "Santa Claus" after he gave his entire inheritance to the poor and needy and dedicated his life to serving God. He was made a Bishop of Myra as a young man, according to the St. Nicholas Center.
As a Bishop, he was known for his generosity to those who were in need, according to the center.
Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, he suffered persecution for his faith and was exiled and sent to prison. After he was released from prison, the center states that he attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.
It is said that he stayed in Patara for numerous years before dying at the age of 65 on Dec. 6, 343 AD, which many church traditions regard as his festival day.
As the Bishop of Myra, this cathedral was his final habitation. Thousands of sightseers travel to the place every year.
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