Carbon Dating Legitimizes Remains of Real-Life Santa

St. Nicholas' pelvis may be in possession of Illinois pastor
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2017 6:20 PM CST
Stock image   (Getty Images/Denisfilm)

(Newser) – Typically if you go around claiming to have a piece of Santa Claus' pelvis, you've earned yourself a psych evaluation. But it turns out a priest outside Chicago might actually have a case. The BBC reports scientists at the University of Oxford conducted the first-ever radiocarbon dating of a bone supposedly belonging to St. Nicholas and discovered that, if nothing else, it's the right age. The real St. Nick—who Smithsonian explains was a wealthy bishop known for leaving coins in the shoes of the poor—is believed to have died in 343 AD in what is now Turkey. The bone tested by Oxford scientists—a partial pelvis in the possession of the relic-collecting Rev. Dennis O'Neill—dated to the 4th century.

“It’s very likely him," O'Neill tells the Chicago Sun-Times. "Pretty exciting.” Scientists wouldn't go that far. Dr. Georges Kazan tells the BBC the bone "could in fact be genuine," but there's no way to prove that. Bones purporting to belong to St. Nicholas can be found around the world, according to a press release. Most experts believe St. Nicholas' remains were stolen from their original resting place in Turkey in 1087 and taken to a church in Bari, Italy. But a church in Venice claims it has the true remains. There are also claims the remains are in Ireland, and O'Neill's pelvis actually came from a church in France. Scientists now want to conduct DNA tests on the bones to find out which come from the same person. (And if that weren't enough, archaeologists claimed in October they found St. Nicholas' remains undisturbed in a grave in Turkey.)

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