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‘Santa’s bone’ dates from the time of Saint Nicholas, the scientists discover

Relic of St. Nicholas, the (pelvis fragment) in St. Martha of Bethany Church/Sanctuary of All Saints, Morton Grove, IL, USA (T. Higham & G. Kazan), the Statue of St. Nicholas in Bari, Italy (iStock/SunnyCeleste).

High-tech analysis of a fragment of bone was honored as a relic of St. Nicholas is located on the right period in history, possibly shedding new light on the historical inspiration for Santa Claus.

For the first time, a micro-fragment of a bone sample is tested by experts, radio carbon dating to confirm that the relic is from the fourth century. Many historians are of the opinion that St. Nicholas died in 343 A. D. The sacred, a Greek Bishop who became famous for his acts of generosity, inspired by the figure of santa Claus.

The radiocarbon dating results suggest that the bones can, in principle, be authentic and belong to St. Nicholas, according to experts from the University of Oxford, who performed the analysis.

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“A lot of relics that we study turn out to date to a period slightly later than the historical statement would suggest,” said Professor Tom Higham, a director of the Oxford Relics Cluster at Keble College Advanced Studies Center, in a statement. “This bone fragment, in contrast, suggests that we may be looking for remains of Saint Nicholas himself.”

Image file of the Basilica di San Nicola, Bari (iStock)

(alxpin)

St. Nicholas is believed to have lived in the ancient city of Myra, Asia minor, now part of the modern town of Demre, in southern Turkey. At his death, his remains were buried in a church in the city. It has long been believed that the saint’s bones were removed from the Demre site in the 11th century and taken to Bari in Italy, where the Basilica di San Nicola was built to house the remains.

Other bones believed to be from St. Nicholas are preserved in the Chiesa di San Nicolo al Lido in Venice.

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The bone analyzed by the researchers of Oxford is owned by Father Dennis O’neill of St. Martha of Bethany Church, the Sanctuary of All Saints, in Morton Grove, Illinois. The bot, which is a part of the human pelvis, originally from Lyon, France.

The beloved inspiration for Santa Claus is still a source of great interest for the archaeologists.

(REUTERS/Michaela Rehle)

Intriguing, the collection of relics in Bari does not include the holy whole basin, only the left ilium, from the upper part of the bone. The bone in the Fr. O’neill’s is in the possession of the pubic bone, to the left, or the lower part of the bone. This would mean that the bones of the same individual, prompting the University of Oxford analysis.

“These results encourage us to now turn to the Bari and Venice, the relics to try to show that the bone remains are from the same person,” said Dr. Georges Kazan, who is also director of the Oxford Relics Cluster. “We can do this with the help of old palaeogenomics, or DNA research. It is exciting to think that these relics, which date from that ancient time, may in fact be the real.”

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An anatomical study of the relics in Venice, which consist of a maximum of 500 bone fragments, to the conclusion that they are complementary to the collection in Bari, which indicates that the sets are from the same person.

Chocolate St. Nicholas figures are depicted in a patisserie in Poecking near Starnberg, southern Germany.

(REUTERS/Michaela Rehle)

However, it remains to be confirmed which fragments of the pelvis, the only, are some of the relics in Venice.

While the research sheds new light on the relics, it will not be conclusive proof of their authenticity. “The science is not able to definitely prove that it is, it can only prove that that is not the case,” says Professor Higham.

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Saint Nicholas is still a source of great interest for the archaeologists. Experts in Turkey, for example, has recently reported that they may be close to finding the tomb of St. Nicholas under a church in Demre. Experts say that they probably observed that the holy sepulchre under the old St. nicholas church.

There are also conflicting theories about the bones removed from the Coast in the 11th century, with a Turkish archaeologist speculate that a set of remains from another priest, not of St. Nicholas, can be made.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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