Turkey: St. Nicolas’s Tomb Discovered

Source: FSSPX News

The Geo site reports that archaeologists have found the exact location of the tomb of St. Nicolas as well as a fresco representing Jesus Christ holding the Bible in one hand, dating from the 3rd or 4th century.

St. Nicholas Church, a Byzantine-style building, located near the city of Antalya in southern Turkey, has been carefully explored by a team of archaeologists for several years. Recent excavations have revealed the exact location of the tomb of St. Nicholas of Myra as well as a fresco of Jesus Christ, on Tuesday October 11, 2022.

St. Nicholas, who lived between 270 and 343, was the Bishop of Myra in Lycia (southwestern present-day Turkey). The current building was built in 520 on the foundations of an older Christian church, which would have been contemporary with the saint and where St. Nicholas would have been buried.

“The original church was submerged almost eight meters by the rising Mediterranean Sea, and a few centuries later a new church was built above it,” said Osman Eravşar, head of the Turkish regional council in charge of preservation of cultural heritage.

Archaeologists had been looking for months to find the remains of the first church, which has now been achieved. The tiling, on which Saint Nicolas walked, has been unearthed. It will be exposed after being covered for so long.

Archaeologists have found the exact location of the saint's tomb, decorated with Greek inscriptions. The relics were taken by Christians to Bari, Italy, during the conquest of the Eastern Roman Empire by the Ottomans.

“At that time, the church was damaged,” explains Osman Eravşar. “The tomb was probably opened, the saint’s bones were removed and the sarcophagus was placed in a niche at the side of the chapel of the church,” he explained.

The restoration of the cupola led to the discovery of another element. In the 1980s, a concrete roof was built over the historic church to prevent rains from flooding the foundations. In removing it, the archaeologists have come across a fresco representing Christ, holding the Gospel in His left hand, and giving a blessing with His right hand.

St. Nicolas died at the age of 65, on December 6. The city of Bari, Italy, has some of his relics, and many miracles are attributed to the intercession of the saint. His cult became extremely popular throughout Europe.