The tomb of St. Nicholas is believed to be found in Turkey, over 1,600 years after he died.
Archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Byzantine church in Turkey. The bishop known as St. Nicholas died in 343 A.D. Archeologists first discovered gaps under the church floors using electronic surveys in 2017.
"The first church was submerged with the rise of the Mediterranean Sea, and some centuries later, a new church was built above," says Osman Eravsar, chief of the cultural heritage preservation board in Antalya, to the Demirören News Agency last week. "Now we have reached the remains of the first church and the floor on which Saint Nicholas stepped."
The team found the tile from the first floor of the church built before it was submerged. After digging further, they found the ancient tomb about five feet under slabs of marble.
According to Christian Headlines, one theory on why it took so long to find St. Nicholas' tomb is that the crypt possibly shifted underground during an earthquake and remained undiscovered until experts were able to scan below the surface using modern techniques.
"There is a grave, and it seems more magnificent, more special, than the ones in the church," says one researcher to The Irish Sun. "Other priests' graves were at the corners, but this holy one is in the middle."
The site still has statues of St. Nicholas nearby. Even though there was an earthquake, the walls of the tomb seem to be fully intact.
Previously, researchers believed St. Nicholas' tomb was inside the church before Italian thieves stole it in the 11th century. Turkey archaeologists, however, now have the bones inside the stolen tomb belonging to an anonymous priest.
Nicholas' relics were enshrined inside the 11th-century Basilica of San Nicola in Bari, Southern Italy.
St. Nicholas was known for anonymously giving gifts and leaving coins in people's shoes. According to some researchers, he was also known as the protector of children and sailors. He was the inspiration of the fictional modern-day character, Santa Claus.