This Week in Christian History: Santa Claus, Paradise Lost, An Archbishop Consecrated

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St. Nicholas Dies - December 6, 345

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(Photo: Screengrab/YouTube/Society)A ruined tomb that is part of the fourth-century church of St. Nicholas in Demre, in modern day Turkey.

This week marks the anniversary of the traditional date given for when the man who inspired the modern American Santa Claus passed away.

A fourth century bishop who lived under the Roman Empire, St. Nicholas was persecuted for his faith under Emperor Diocletian but lived to see Constantine come to power and legalize Christianity.

St. Nicholas was introduced into American popular culture toward the end of the 18th century when groups of Dutch families gathered to honor the anniversary of his death.

"The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick's Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas)," noted

So yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus ... and he's been dead since the fourth century.

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