An Italian forensic pathologist has teamed up with a British anthropologist and new technology to reconstruct the face of the real Saint Nicholas, whose relics can be found in Bari, Italy. See http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/12/24/yes-virginia-there-is-a-santa-claus-and-heres-what-he-look/?icid=mainhtmlws-sb-ndl1link7http%3A%2F%2Fwww.politicsdaily.com%2F2009%2F12%2F24%2Fyes-virginia-there-is-a-santa-claus-and-heres-what-he-look%2F
As the article explains,
Nicholas of Myra (270-346 AD) was born into a patrician family of some wealth, but as a devoted Christian he used what he had to help others (and to intervene on behalf of the falsely accused). The most famous story to come down to us is how Nicholas, hearing of the plight of a father who could not afford dowries for his three daughters, secretly left bags of gold coins at their home to provide a dowry and preserve the ladies from a likely fate as prostitutes. In one version of the story, the father lay in wait the third time the donor was to visit and thus discovered the identity of history's first secret Santa.
But Nicholas was much more than a kindly, anonymous gift-giver. As a bishop in the fourth century, he was also deeply involved in the raging disputes of the day over core issues of church doctrine that we now take for granted, or ought to.
For the story of how Saint Nick's bones arrived in Bari, Italy, from what is now present day Turkey, see: http://www.basilicasannicola.it/home/capitoli.php?area_id=25&lingua_id=2&capitolo_id=116
Presumably, despite Italy's own aggressive repatriation efforts, there are no plans to send Saint Nick's relics back to Turkey anytime soon.
In any event, Cultural Property Observer wishes all its readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.