BY DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL DEC 06, 2022 – 4:52 PM GMT+3
St. Nicholas, the inspiration for the modern-day image of Santa Claus, was remembered on his 1679th death anniversary in a church where he once served in Antalya Tuesday.
A congregation led by Hrisostomos Kalaycı, Metropolitan of Demre town in Antalya, where the church is located for the Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, convened in the church. The church now serves as a memorial museum dedicated to the saint. Antalya is home to a large Orthodox community because of numerous Russian expats, visitors from Greece, and other countries living in the region.
Around barriers separating fragile parts of the ancient church, the congregation recited prayers while a box containing relics of the saint was presented. The faithful from Istanbul, where the patriarchate is located, attended the religious service.
Metropolitan Kalaycı told Demirören News Agency (DHA) on the sidelines of the ceremony that the church is the actual place where St. Nicholas’ tomb is located and it was built for that reason centuries ago.
Kalaycı said they have been holding mass for St. Nicholas for the past three decades every year. “St. Nicholas is not Santa Claus we know today as ‘branded’ by a beverage company. But he was a saint who was born here and spent his entire life. He was a popular figure and was perceived as the patron saint of sailors,” he added. Kalaycı also maintained that the relics were in possession of the now-defunct Austrian Empire and were a bone belonging to the saint.