Historians believe that the remains of St. Nicholas, the man who inspired Father Christmas, are buried at Jerpoint Abbey in County Kilkenny, Ireland.
The bishop was buried in the cathedral church in Myra, which became a pilgrimage site, but Irish historians claim that the early crusaders brought his remains back to Jerpoint Abbey.
Advertisement"It is an amazing story and yet very few people in Ireland know about St Nicholas's connection with this country. Every year now we get visitors to the site, but still not that many," The Telegraph quoted Philip Lynch, an historian and chairman of Callan Heritage Society in Co Kilkenny, as saying.
"There is a great story about a notorious old miser. He never gave the children any Christmas presents, instead he delighted in bringing them to Jerpoint and showing them Father Christmas's grave," he added.
It has previously believed that St Nicholas's remains were taken to Bari in southern Italy in the 11th century after Italian sailors looted his grave.
However, Lynch claims there is evidence to suggest that a French family who settled in Ireland shortly after 1169 were responsible for moving his remains.
He believes that the crusading family, called the de Frainets, exhumed the tomb after they were routed by their enemies, and brought the content to southern Italy, which was then Norman lands.
When they were subsequently forced out of Italy by the Genoese, the remains were entrusted to relatives in Nice, who moved them to family lands in Kilkenny for safe keeping.
Nicholas de Frainet built a dedicated Cistercian Abbey at Jerpoint where St Nicholas's remains were then interred in 1200.
"St Nicholas Church is still standing and there is a slab on the ground which marks St Nicholas's grave," Lynch said.
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