We Know Where the REAL St. Nicholas Was Buried, And He Was a Warrior for Christ

Santa Claus is a modern icon of the Christmas season, but not many people know the true history of the figure behind the corporate mascot.

Many people know that Santa was popularized by a 1931 Coca-Cola advertisement complete with the red and white suit, rosy cheeks, white beard, warm smile and plump figure that we associate with Santa Claus today.

However, what is less commonly known is the historical figure this persona was based on.

The illustrator of the Coca-Cola ad, Haddon Sundblom, got his inspiration from an 1822 poem called “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” written by Clement Clark Moore. (You probably know the first words: “‘Twas the night before Christmas.”)

St. Nicholas was a bishop in a small town called Myra, now known as Demre, in Turkey in the fourth century.

A passionate man, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in 325, during which it is alleged that he struck the heretic Arius in the face.

As a young man still undergoing his studies, Nicholas healed a woman with a withered hand in his earliest attributed miracle, according to the St. Nicholas Center at Virginia Theological Seminary.

It is also said that Nicholas drove away demons that had been terrifying villagers in the town of Plakoma.

When the villagers begged Nicholas, by then Bishop of Myra, to rid a cypress tree of demons, he frightened the demons off by swinging an ax.

He is also credited with reviving children murdered by a wicked butcher and miraculously saving a baby from a fire, leading Nicholas to be known as the patron saint of children.

He was known to be generous with his wealth, and his frequent gift-giving is thought to have inspired, at least in part, the legend of Santa Claus.

Nicholas was interred in Myra and the site became a well-known shrine for believers until 1087, when Italian sailors stole his remains and took them to Bari, Italy.

There they increased Nicholas’ popularity across Europe, and Bari became a busy pilgrimage center. The saint’s remains are still enshrined in the 11th-century Basilica di San Nicola in Bari.

In 2017, researchers dated a fragment of the remains that had made its way to the United States. They confirmed that it was from the fourth century.

And archaeologists in Turkey recently uncovered Nicholas’ original resting place, “the exact specific spot where he was buried before his bones were pilfered,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

Nicholas’ life of faith and incredible miracles are a part of the Santa Claus tradition that we often forget.

This Christmas, be sure to remember that there was a real warrior for Christ giving gifts and helping the needy long before Coca-Cola came along, and his story is certainly worth sharing.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.