The legend of Santa Claus is inspired from a real-life saint who likely lived during the 4th century, St. Nicholas. His supposed remains are still kept in an Italian basilica, while some other bone fragments were found in an American private collection. Researchers performed a carbon dating analysis on the latter, and found that their age corresponded with the historical accounts of the saint.
St. Nicholas lived during the 4th century
The legend of St. Nicholas describes him as a generous rich man, who used to bring presents to the poor. From here to Santa Claus there was only a step, so this is how people started offering gifts on Christmas.
It is thought that the saint died in today’s Turkey in 343 AD. Later, some Italian merchants supposedly found his remains, which were taken to basilica that now bears his name, namely the Basilica di San Nicola. This church, located in Bari, in the south of Puglia, has hosted the remnants since 1087.
The results of the carbon dating fit the historical accounts
However, one pelvic bone likely belonging to the same saint ended up in the possession of an American priest from Morton Grove, Illinois. He offered this fragment to the researchers, so that they could perform carbon dating and tell the period the bone comes from. The results showed it was from the 4th century, which fits the historical data about the saint.
Usually, whenever researchers date relics which likely belonged to saints, they turn out to come from a completely different period than history says. However, this pelvic bone is different. The fragment, together with many others which are spread in churches all over the world, are claimed to belong to the same Bari collection. Therefore, they can really be the remnants of the real St. Nicholas. Now, scientists want to test these relics as well, and prove they all belonged to the same person.
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