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Nicholas of Myra

Very little is known about Nicholas, from whom Santa Claus is derived, and of one of the most popular of all the saints in Christendom the prototype. He is reputed to have suffered imprisonment under the Roman emperor Diocletian,* only to be released to serve as one of the bishops at the Council of Nicea* (325), a supposition which is not supported by any of the records of Nicea. The patron saint of Russia as well as of sailors and children, he was believed to bring gifts to children on his feast day, 6 December. The first clear evidence of Nicholas is in the Church of St. Priscus and St. Nicholas built by Emperor Justinian at Constantinople. Veneration for this saint spread to the West after 1087, when his remains were claimed to have come into the possession of the people of Bari.