DEAD: ON THIS DATE
-4th-century Christian saint (Santa Claus)
Saint Nicholas of Myra (traditionally 15 March 270 – 6 December 343), also known as Nicholas of Bari, was an early Christian bishop of the ancient Greek city of Myra in Asia Minor (modern-day Demre, Turkey) during the time of the Roman Empire. He is revered by many Christians as a saint. Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students in various cities and countries around Europe. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints, and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus (“Saint Nick”) through Sinterklaas.
DEATH: It has long been traditionally assumed that Saint Nicholas was originally buried in his home town of Myra, where his relics are later known to have been kept, but some recent archaeological evidence indicates that Saint Nicholas may have originally been entombed in a rock-cut church located at the highest point on the small Turkish island of Gemile, only twenty miles away from his birthplace of Patara. Nicholas’s name is painted on part of the ruined building. In antiquity, the island was known as “Saint Nicholas Island” and today it is known in Turkish as Gemile Adasi, meaning “Island of Sailors”, in reference to Saint Nicholas’s traditional role as the patron saint of seafarers. The church was built in the fourth century, around the time of Nicholas’s death, and is typical of saints’ shrines from that time period. Nicholas was the only major saint associated with that part of Turkey. The church where historians believe he was originally entombed is at the western end of the great processional way.