Examination of a Relic

Bone fragment
Bone fragment tested in Oxford
Photo: Press Association

A relic identified as St. Nicholas, held by the Shrine of All Saints in St. Martha of Bethany Church, Morton Grove, Illinois, USA, has been radiocarbon tested by researchers at Oxford University. The priest acquired the bone in Lyon, France.

Results indicate that the bone is from a person who lived in the 4th century. AD 343 is the time given for St. Nicholas’ death.The investigation was done by the Oxford Relics Cluster, Keble College Advanced Studies Centre. in Oxford, England.

Most of St. Nicholas’ bones were brought to Bari, Italy, in 1057 from Myra, Lycia in Asia Minor. Around 500 smaller chips and fragments were taken from there to the Lido of Venice in 1099.

The bone just tested is a pelvic bone, from the the left pubis. Bari has the left ilium, but not the full pelvis. Venice also has fragments of pelvic bones. This newly tested bone is believed to very possibly belong to the same skeleton as the Bari and Venice bones.

Further work, involving ancient palaeogenomics or DNA testing, will be required to determine if the bone is truly from the same skeleton as the remains in Bari and Venice.

“‘Santa’s bone’ proved to be correct age” by Seran Coughlan, BBC News, December 6, 2017
“Santa’s ancient bone owned by U.S. priest confirmed to be right age for saint Nicholas life” by Sofia Lotto Persio, Newsweek, December 5, 2017
“Santa Claus no longer a myth! Analysis of ancient bones claims Father Christmas did exist” by Sanchalita Mullick, December 7, 2017, International Business Times.
“Santa Claus is REAL: Scientists confirm ancient bone fragment belonged to jolly old St Nicholas” by Ellie Cullen, December 6, 2017, The Mirror.
“Bone Analysis Takes Us One Step Further to Confirming the Santa Claus Legend by Alicia McDermott, Ancient Origins, December 8, 2017
“Bizarre Origins of 4th-Century ‘Santa Claus Bone’ Revealed” by Owen Jarus, LiveScience, December 8, 2017

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