Picture: St Nicholas statue, ancient city of Myra. Author: Simm.
Taken from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nikolas_myra.jpg
St Nicholas Church of Demre, town of Demre, Antalya Province, Turkey
Picture: The Church of St. Nicholas in Myra. Postcard photo; copyright unknown. Taken from http://www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/kale-church-of-st-nicholas-myra.htm
St Nicholas Church is located in modern Demre, on the territory of the ancient city of Myra. Nicholas was the bishop of Myra, and after his death was buried there. In the 6th century a church was built over his tomb, greatly damaged already after several years because of the earthquake or the river flood, according to different sources. The following century brought other damages by the Arab raids, and the Church had to be rebuilt almost completely in the 8th century. With time the monastery was founded beside the Church, and the relics of the Saint rested there until 1087, when the sailors of Bari stole them and moved them to their city (this story is narrated in the upper section “Relics of the Saint”).
From then on the St Nicholas Church of Demre was gradually ruining, in spite of several efforts of the Russians to restore the building. Lately several archaeological excavations were held in the territory, revealing some objects from the inside of the church. The liturgy is held there only a few times in a year.
Basilica di San Nicola, city of Bari, Apulia region, Italy
Picture: photo of Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, Città Vecchia.
Taken from http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bari_Basilica_San_Nicola.jpg
The Basilica was reconstructed and devoted to St Nicholas in 1087-1197, after the relics of the Saint had been moved to Bari from Myra. Before the building was part of the residence of the governor Catepan, in the times when Bari was the capital of the Byzantine Province of Italy.
After the translation of the relics, the place became at once the most famous center for pilgrimages, and until today it hosts thousands of pilgrims from all over Europe. The city of Bari was called the bridge between East and West in the medieval period, as the act of translation of relics was recorded almost in all chronicles of that time, and besides Nicholas was the most venerated Saint both in the East and in the West. The Russians established a liturgical feast devoted to the translation of the relics. And even when the city of Bari was destroyed by Normans in 1156, it remained well-known as St Nicholas’ Harbour, and anyway hosted many pilgrims.
Each year, on St Nicholas Day, the clergy of the basilica take some myrrh from the tomb, believed to have miraculous healing powers, and send it to the churches all over the world. The Basilica contains an Orthodox chapel, a library and a treasury with significant ancient works. In the center of Bari there is also the Museo Nicolaiano, a museum which exhibits works of art illustrating the story of the Basilica.
Source: the official website of the Basilica http://www.basilicasannicola.it
Church of San Nicolò, Lido, city of Venice, Italy
The Church of San Nicolò (one of the variants of Nicholas’ name) was founded in 1044. It houses remains of St Nicholas of Myra, St Nicholas of Patara (the uncle) and St Theodore (the previous patron saint of Venice). All these relics were translated to Lido from Myra by the crusaders in 1099-1100, causing a long dispute between Venice and Bari for the authenticity of Nicholas’ relics. Finally, after years of scientific investigations, it seems to be proved, that both parts of the Saint’s body are authentic, and the greater part is located in Bari.
The Church has been several times under reconstruction, and its actual look is dating back to the 17th century, when the complex was under the care of the Benedictines, who founded the monastery near the Church. In the beginning of the 19th century by Napoleonic decree the Church served as a chapel of the military barrack until 1926.
Nicholas was considered the patron saint of the seamen, and by the tradition, during the Ascension Festival in May, the Doge of Venice came to the Church of San Nicolò to hold the ritual marriage of Venice and sea, a ceremony symbolizing the maritime dominion of Venice. This tradition is celebrated until today at Lido.