Dr. Adam English, assistant professor of Theology at Campbell University, used his summer faculty research grant to travel to Italy to discover more about Saint Nicholas. English spent May 13-19, 2009 in Bari, Italy, where St. Nicholas' bones are buried. He explored archives, read original documents and toured the basilica dedicated to the saint.
"I've become very interested in St. Nicholas, the historical person behind Santa Claus," said English. "He was a real person who lived in the 4th century. But what really fascinated me were the stories and legends that developed around him, especially in the Middle Ages. History, folklore, and faith all mix together."
Although St. Nicholas died and was buried in Turkey, in the year 1087 his bones were stolen and taken to Bari, Italy. Every year in May there is a reenactment of that event called the Festival of the Translation of the Relics.
"This was a great trip," said English. "I was able to observe the fervor and ardor of pilgrims who are devoted to Nicholas. People were weeping before his tomb."
English plans to use his research to write a scholarly article and eventually write a book. He also wants to weave his experience into his class on Ancient and Medieval Theology.
Photo Copy: The statue of St. Nicholas in Bari, Italy.