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Dick Osseman | profile | all galleries >> Demre with Myra's Saint Nicolas Church of Santa Claus fame tree view | thumbnails | slideshow | map

Demre with Myra's Saint Nicolas Church of Santa Claus fame

Modern Demre, near the antique Myra supposedly was the see of St. Nicolas. A saint who, in my country, Holland, throws a party every year in December, is then called Sinterklaas and as such is – in my mind – a more interesting and sympathetic figure than the ho-ho-ing Santa Claus, with which he is synonymous. I had seen his grave in Bari, Italy, and wanted to see where the Barinese stole the body from. I have hardly pictures of the town. The church was a pleasant surprise, a complicated structure. The original 5th century basilica having been destroyed in the 8-9th century a new one was erected, and later extended. It was restored in the 11th century and then again in 1862.


As for St. Nicolas, the Enc. Brit. gives: Also called Nicholas of Bari or Nicholas of Myra one of the most popular minor saints commemorated in the Eastern and Western churches and now traditionally associated with the festival of Christmas. In many countries children receive gifts on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day. Nicholas's existence is not attested by any historical document, so nothing certain is known of his life except that he was probably bishop of Myra in the 4th century. According to tradition, he was born in the ancient Lycian seaport city of Patara, and, when young, traveled to Palestine and Egypt. He became bishop of Myra soon after returning to Lycia. He was imprisoned during the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Diocletian but was released under the rule of Emperor Constantine the Great and attended the first Council (325) of Nicaea. He was buried in his church at Myra, and by the 6th century his shrine there had become well-known. In 1087 Italian sailors or merchants stole his alleged remains from Myra and took them to Bari, Italy; this removal greatly increased the saint's popularity in Europe, and Bari became one of the most crowded of all pilgrimage centres. Nicholas's relics remain enshrined in the 11th-century basilica of San Nicola at Bari.


Editing of pictures of frescoes is extremely difficult. The lighting often is poor, sometimes from mixed sources such as artificial light and some sunlight filtering in. I went, as I often do, for clarity of the image. Some frescoes may have more contrast than they actually posses, and some colours may be untrue. In March 2012 I returned and I kept most of the pictures from that visit rather unedited, hence some have less contrast. In December I went here once again. Integrating all the pictures may take a while. As always any comments identifying frescos are welcome.
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