Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Turkey hints at calling for repatriation of the relics of St. Nicholas

The Turkish Minister of Culture has strong suggested he will call for the "return" of the relics of St. Nicholas to Myra (modern day Demre) in Turkey. The relics are currently kept in Bari (Italy) where they have been since the 11th century AD. The minister suggested the body of "Father Christmas" should be displayed in a Turkish museum that is being proposed for construction.

As I noted in a comment at Rorate Caeli; there is no national government in existence which has any legal or moral claim to the relics of St. Nicholas. Once the Emperor reclaims his throne in Constantinople and the cross is again raised over Hagia Sophia this topic can be revisited. Given the precarious position of the Ecumenical Patriarch in a country with a well established track record of persecuting religious minorities (especially the Greek Orthodox Church) I believe it better that the relics remain where they are as long as they are accessible to all for veneration.

Hat tip to Carlos Antonio Palad of Rorate Caeli.


Michael said...

Why the sudden interest, I wonder. Nary a peep about it before. I do not believe that there is any genuine cultural interest here. This is just another satanic stab at Christianity by the Turkish state.

Lord, forgive them.

Steve Hayes said...

If the relics are returned, they should be housed in an Orthodox Church where they can be venerated by the Orthodox faithful. There is no point in demanding that the bishop return without allowing his flock to return as well.

I suspect it's another instance of what Tom Lehrer said - "Christmas, with its spirit of giving, gives us all an opportunity to reflect on what we most deeply and sincerely believe in. I refer, of course, to money."

There was a similar attempt in Romania (which recently discovered Bram Stoker's novel) to cash in on a Dracual tourist boom.

peggy38 said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. St Nicholas would become like the Hagia Sophia, a museum attraction. This would suit the Turks all too well since they are convinced that the Christian faith is only a cultural relic which they are all too happy to force into its grave. If there are living people who insist that it is not, the same government is all too willing to force them to despair of there being any other fate for their church.

The raw exercise of power as worked so far for them resulting in a monolithic society with a negligible Christian minority. People will flee persecution or they will join the persecutors to gain their same advantages or else they will die. The end result is the same. All that matters is making Islam appear like the winner, the conqueror.

Over a lot of Christian dead bodies will St Nicholas ever be moved back to that place.