Dec 21, 2009

Did Ireland steal Santa Claus?

photo via creative commons by TimmyGUNZ
The real Saint Nicholas is generally believed to be a 4th century bishop from Turkey. Legend says that he was wealthy and gave away most all of his fortune. One tale is about a poor father who had no dowery for his three daughters. They were destined to become slaves without a dowery, but for three nights in a row Saint Nicholas of Myra secretly threw bags of gold in through the man's window, thus saving the girls.

There are other tales of this bishop giving away gifts. He was buried in Turkey around 346AD and was immediately considered a saint because of his generosity.

During the crusades saint relics were often taken into battle for protection--a sort of good luck charm. It's believed that this happened with Saint Nicholas's remains. They were first taken to Italy and then around 800 years ago they were reburied in Ireland by a relative named Nicholas de Frainet near Kilkenny. The spot is now on private farmland, but it once was a medieval abbey. There is a gravestone there that dates from the 13th century bearing an image (believed to be Saint Nicholas) and two heads (believed to be the two Norman crusaders who brought the remains to Ireland.)
Grave of Saint Nicholas at Newtown Jerpoint
photo via creative commons by Jody Halsted

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