Silk Road Trade & Travel Encyclopedia

Interesting Facts & Trivia

4 - QUESTION:  In which Silk Road country was St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) born, and in which Silk Road country is the Virgin Mary believed to have died?

Answer:  Turkey.

Known today as Santa Claus, St. Nicholas was born in Patara and served as a 4th century Bishop of Myra (now Demre) in Lycia on Turkey's Mediterranean coast. Saint Nicholas is the primary inspiration for the Christian figure of Sinterklaas. Lycia was a province of Byzantine Anatolia. St. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor.

The Virgin Mary is believed to have died in the vicinity of Ephesus, in modern-day SelÁuk, Turkey. Pope Paul VI visited the shrine on July 26, 1967, and 'unofficially' confirmed its authenticity (known as the "House of the Virgin Mary"). Pope John Paul II also visited the shrine, on November 30, 1979. Pope Benedict XVI visited this shrine on November 29, 2006. It is widely believed that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken to the area by Saint John (before dying on the cross, Jesus entrusted to St. John his mother, 19:26-27). The Tomb of St. John is also located in this area.

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