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Il mondo intorno a noi

Rediscovering the Long-Lost Tomb of Saint Nicholas of Myra (vegetarian)

2023-12-06
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Today, December 6, is Saint Nicholas Day, a holiday dedicated to the beloved and legendary Saint Nicholas, renowned for his kindness, generosity, and compassion. In the year AD 343, Saint Nicholas passed away, at the age of 73. A great procession of fellow bishops, priests, and monks, accompanied his body to its resting place, in the church at Myra. This burial place has recently been uncovered by archaeologists in Saint Nicholas Church, an ancient basilica located in the historic city of Myra, along the Mediterranean coast in southwestern Türkiye.

The life of Saint Nicholas of Myra was filled with miraculous occurrences as well as momentous historical events, which are still remembered 1,700 years later. Numerous legends and folk tales, culminating in the contemporary iconic figure of Santa Claus, are based upon the life of Saint Nicholas. In many Christian denominations, Saint Nicholas is venerated as a worker of miracles, and the patron saint for sailors and voyages, bankers, pawnbrokers, maidens, students, children, paupers, judges, and many more.

In Myra, it is said that the relics of Saint Nicholas would annually emit a clear, fragrant liquid resembling rose water, known as manna, or myrrh. Devotees believed that this substance held miraculous properties, adding to the mystique surrounding the Saint’s remains.

One night in 1087, a group of Bari’s merchant sailors broke into the crypt of Saint Nicholas and removed his major bones, taking them back home to protect them as well as promote the prestige of their city. The sacred relics of Saint Nicholas were then placed in a newly constructed church in Bari, Italy. That is why Saint Nicholas of Myra is also sometimes known as Saint Nicholas of Bari.

Several other churches in the world also claim to have secured relics of Saint Nicholas, with many of his smaller bones finding their way all over Europe, even as far away as Ireland. Saint Nicholas Church in Demre, Türkiye, and what is now confirmed as the original church of Saint Nicholas’ diocese, has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites’ tentative list since 1982.
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