Father Christmas 'buried in Ireland'Breaking News
Experts claim that the philanthropist St Nicholas of Myra is entombed at the 12th century abbey after his body was moved there 800 years ago.
The saint, revered for his extraordinary generosity, lived during the 4th century and was Bishop of Lycia in what is now Turkey.
Due to his habit for leaving anonymous gifts for the poor, he was declared a saint soon after his death in 346, and inspired the legend of Father Christmas.
The bishop was buried in the cathedral church in Myra, which became a pilgrimage site, but Irish historians claim the early crusaders brought his remains back to Jerpoint Abbey.
Philip Lynch, an historian and chairman of Callan Heritage Society in Co Kilkenny, said: "It is an amazing story and yet very few people in Ireland know about St Nicholas's connection with this country.
“Every year now we get visitors to the site, but still not that many.
"There is a great story about a notorious old miser. He never gave the children any Christmas presents, instead he delighted in bringing them to Jerpoint and showing them Father Christmas's grave."
Born into a wealthy family, his parents died when he was young and Nicholas dedicated his life to serving God.
Inspired by Jesus's teachings to "Sell what you own and give the money to the poor," he spent all his inheritance helping the sick and needy.
One story tells of a poor peasant with three daughters, who could not afford the dowry to ensure they married and were saved from a life of slavery.
As he began to despair, on three separate nights as they came of age, bags of gold appeared in his home, seemingly tossed through a window or down the chimney as they slept, landing in shoes left by the fire.
The story inspired the tradition of children leaving out their stockings to be filled by Father Christmas.
It has previously been held that St Nicholas’s remains were taken to Bari in southern Italy in the 11th century after his grave was looted by Italian sailors.
However, Mr Lynch claims there is evidence to suggest that a French family who settled in Ireland shortly after 1169 were responsible for moving his remains.
He believes that the crusading family, called the de Frainets, exhumed the tomb after they were routed by their enemies, and brought the content to southern Italy, which was then Norman lands.
When they were subsequently forced out of Italy by the Genoese, the remains were entrusted to relatives in Nice, who moved them to family lands in Kilkenny for safe keeping.
Nicholas de Frainet built a dedicated Cistercian Abbey at Jerpoint where St Nicholas’s remains were then interred in 1200.
"St Nicholas Church is still standing and there is a slab on the ground which marks St Nicholas's grave," said Mr Lynch.
comments powered by Disqus
- From Reconstruction To WWII, How The U.S. Census Has Been Used For Both Good And Bad
- For Sri Lanka, a Long History of Violence
- Ancestry.com's racist ad tumbles into a cultural minefield
- Vermont passes bill abolishing Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day
- ‘The President himself may be guilty’: Why pardons were hotly debated by the Founding Fathers
- Newly released recordings of Citizens’ Council Radio Forum show white supremacy’s evolution through the civil rights era in real time
- Author Sarah Rose Writes the Women’s History of World War II With ‘D-Day Girls’
- What Was the Biggest Political Scandal in American History? 7 Historians Make Their Picks
- New Website aims to preserve Detroit’s civil rights history
- 3 More Colleges Go Test Optional; Doctoral Program Drops GRE