The Tomb Of St. Nicholas Has Been Located

ISTANBUL – The burial site of the so-called “Santa Claus” has been discovered in Antalya, Turkiye in the Byzantine house of worship named after him. A wall painting of Jesus holding a bible helped uncover the exact location of the crypt.

The current archaeological dig is taking place 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 on the site, 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 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 acknowledged the world over as “Santa Claus” was a native to Patara, a significant trade destination of that era. St. Nicholas was born in 300 BC, and was the child of a prosperous wheat trader. It is said that he stayed there for numerous years before dying at the age of 65 on Dec. 6 which many church traditions regard as his festival day. He was the Bishop of Myra. This cathedral was his final habitation. Thousands of sightseers travel to this place every year.

The Frontier Post
Photo Accreditation:
Jaroslav Čermák at Wikipedia
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