Nicholas may have been discovered in Turkey

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Archeologists claim they have found the final resting place of St. Nicholas, the late-3rd and early-4th century Greek Orthodox bishop who became the inspiration for Santa Claus, beneath a church in Turkey.

In an interview with local Turkish paper, The Daily Sabah, the head of Antalya's Monument Authority Cemil Karabayram said they came across the tomb while conducting digital surveys below the surface of the church.

It has been traditionally thought that Saint Nicholas's remains had been transported to the city of Bari in Italy by Italian merchants in 1087, some 700 years after his death.

Saint Nicholas was interred at the church in Demre when he died in 343 A.D, where he lay undisturbed until the 11th century. During the 16th century, European tales of Saint Nicholas transformed him into Father Christmas, a saint who gave gifts to children.

Saint Nicholas was buried nearby, but his bones were believed to have been stolen and taken to a town in southern Italy. "If relics are found, they would need to be dated and examined by worldwide experts", said Carol Meyers, a representative from the centre.

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When Dutch migrants came to the United States, they brought the tradition of "Sinterklaas", their version of Saint Nicholas, providing the origins for the portly bespectacled man we know today as Santa Claus. Karabayram now believes that the bones discovered in Bari may have belonged to another priest.

Karabayram now says he is optimistic about digging up Santa Claus - but perhaps not in time for Christmas. He is said to have once climbed down a chimney to leave a donation.

He famously said: 'The giver of every good and ideal gift has called upon us to mimic Gods giving, by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves'.

"The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick's Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas)". It's said that he'd put coins in the shoes of anyone who left them out for him on his feast day, December 6. The good news is, Santa is (probably) real.

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