The Real St. Nicholas
The legendary figure of Santa Claus seems to have originated at least partially from the myths surrounding St. Nicholas of Myra (or of Bari), who lived during the fourth century and died December 6, 345 or 352. While there are a great many miracles and events attributed to St. Nicholas, almost all that is known with certainty about him is that he was the Bishop of Myra. He was probably born at Patara in Lycia of Asia Minor (in what is now Turkey) around 270, and was chosen bishop of Myra, the capital of Lycia, when the episcopal seat was vacated. He became known for his extreme piety and zeal, and it is almost certain that he underwent imprisonment during the persecution of Christians under Diocletian. Some histories have said that he was present at the Council of Nicea, but because his name is not mentioned in any of the lists of bishops that attended, it is somewhat doubtful that he was actually there. He died in Myra and his body was buried in the cathedral, where it remained until 1087 at which time it was moved to Bari, Italy.