Bone fragment suggests the legend of Father Christmas is true

Jose Verdugo
Diciembre 8, 2017

According to reports, a fragment of the pelvic bone to have passed from St Nicholas's grave in Lycia to a church in IL via Italy and France has been confirmed to have dated to the 4th century AD, the time believed when the saint died.

While the boffins can not conclusively prove the bone is from the venerated Turkish saint, they have managed to pinpoint its age to the fourth century AD. New analysis suggests the remains of the saint date to the proper historical period. Hailing from the fourth century, tales of St Nicholas paint a picture of an incredibly generous (and fabulously wealthy) man who became famous for his gift-giving nature, but actual evidence that the man was real has remained elusive.

The bone analysed in Oxford - a pelvis fragment - is owned by Father Dennis O'Neill, of St Martha of Bethany Church, in Illinois, United States.

Saint Nicholas is also considered to be one of the most important saints of the Orthodox Church, and believers go on pilgrimages to the southern Italian town of Bari, where the saint's remains were buried in a crypt in its namesake Basilica in 1087.

The head of the local Monument Authority says that they have come across an untouched shrine while digitally surveying under the church.

While carbon testing normally shows most saintly relics to be from later historic periods than typically alleged, professor Tom Higham, a director of the Oxford Relics Cluster at Keble College's Advanced Studies Centre, said the dating of this relic shows it may truly be part of St. Nicholas's remains. After his death in modern-day Turkey, St. Nicholas' relics have been kept in the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari since the 11 century.

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Icon of popular Christian religion Saint Nicolas. "This bone fragment, in contrast, suggests that we could possibly be looking at remains from St Nicholas himself", Higham said.

The scientists said the fragment was of the left pubis - the lower part of the pelvis - while the Bari collection only contains the upper part of the bone, suggesting they could be from the same person.

"We can do this using ancient palaeogenomics, or DNA testing. It is exciting to think that these relics, which date from such an ancient time, could in fact be genuine", Georges Kazan, another Oxford researcher, said in the statement.

A previous anatomical study concluded that the relics held in Venice were complementary to the Bari collection, and could have originated from the same individual. Now, scientists want to test these relics as well, and prove they all belonged to the same person.

"Science is not able to definitely prove that it is, it can only prove that it is not, however", Higham said. But as centuries passed, other organizations began to claim they, too, had bones from St Nicholas, and even the most devoted believers have been forced to question how any of this can actually be true.

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