ANKARA, TURKEY – Turkish archaeologists believe they may have discovered the missing bones of Santa Claus.
A team of archaeologists say the possible remains of St. Nicholas – the real man who inspired the legend of Santa Claus – were found beneath a church in his birthplace in southern Turkey, according to the Associated Press.
St. Nicholas was born and served as a bishop of what is now the Turkish town of Demre, near Antalya, in the 4th century.
He was buried in the area formerly known as Myra, but his bones were believed to have been stolen and taken to the southern Italian town of Bari, AP reported.
But now, archaeologists recently discovered what they think is a temple below the church and believe St. Nicholas' bones may be inside the previously unknown tomb.
Turkish officials now say the bones that were smuggled to Bari may have been the remains of another priest.
Archaeologists are looking for a way into the temple without damaging the 11th-century Church of St. Nicholas that sits above it.
Officials told the AP that the temple was discovered through radar scans of the church, conducted as part of a restoration project.
The temple is intact, officials said, and hasn't been affected by any earthquakes.
Tradition holds that St. Nick was known for his kindness and generosity.
Stories of the Saint helping people and giving to the poor spread across the globe until he became intertwined with the gift-giving, Christmas icon of Santa Claus.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.