How Saint Nicholas May Have Looked

What did Saint Nicholas really look like? That is a question a few people have tried to answer. The anatomy professor from the University of Bari, Luigi Martino, who catalogued, measured, and photographed the saint's bony relics in 1957, tried his hand at sketching what Nicholas would look like if soft tissues were present on the skull. He also drew a figure showing how the skeleton with flesh and with bishop's vestments.

The 2004 Deisis project in Russia created digital images developed from thousands of digital pictures taken from traditional iconographic representations of religious figures. Portraits were created by computer programs synthesizing characteristics from the all the included icons. The exhibit opened in the State Tretyakov Gallery and M'Ars Centre of Contemporary Art on April 14, 2004. Nicholas was one of twenty-three portraits in the installation.

Also in 2004, forensic pathologist Francesco Introna, University of Bari, engaged facial anthropologist Caroline Wilkinson of the University of Manchester, to create a reconstruction applying the latest computer diagnostic techniques to the data gathered in 1957. Digital artist Anand Kapoor completed the project. It is shown with five icon images.

The results show what Saint Nicholas may have looked like:

Sketches: Luigi Martino, Bari, Italy, 1957
Bollettino di San Nicola
Used by permission
Digital reconstruction
Deisis Project, Russia, 2004
Permission pending
Images of six St Nicholas faces
Top row: 1) Russian icon, ca 1900; 2) Forensic Reconstruction/Anand Kapoor, 2020, used by permission; 3) Russian icon, 2001
Bottom row: 1) 19th century Russian icon; 2) Russian painting, ca 1990; 3) USA icon, 2000 (Jack Pachuta)
Icons from the St Nicholas Center Collection
Skeleton, figure, vested figure sketches
Sketches: Luigi Martino, Bari, Italy, 1957
The Real Face of St. Nicholas
Developed using data from the 1957 examination and modern forensic science
Anatomical Examination of the Bari Relics
The only thorough identification and cataloging of the relics
Is St. Nicholas in Venice, too?
Examination of relics in the Lido of Venice
St. Nicholas in the Antalya Museum
Examination of the museum's bones
St. Nicholas: The Great Adventure (The Story of a Man and His Remains)
A history of the anatomical investigations of the skeletal remains of St. Nicholas of Myra
by lead investigator Luigi Martino

In another section

Relics of St. Nicholas—Where are They?
Many places claim St. Nicholas

Images courtesy of:
Bollettino di San Nicola, Bari, Italy, used by permission;
Image Foundry Studios, used by permission;
Deisis Project, Russia, permission pending.

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