The remains of St Nicholas, the man who inspired Father Christmas, are buried at Jerpoint Abbey in County Kilkenny, Ireland, historians believe.
Experts claim that the philanthropist St Nicholas of Myra is entombed at the 12th century abbey after his body was moved there 800 years ago.
The saint, revered for his extraordinary generosity, lived during the 4th century and was Bishop of Lycia in what is now Turkey.
Due to his habit for leaving anonymous gifts for the poor, he was declared a saint soon after his death in 346, and inspired the legend of Father Christmas.
The bishop was buried in the cathedral church in Myra, which became a pilgrimage site, but Irish historians claim the early crusaders brought his remains back to Jerpoint Abbey.
Philip Lynch, an historian and chairman of Callan Heritage Society in Co Kilkenny, said: “It is an amazing story and yet very few people in Ireland know about St Nicholas’s connection with this country.
“Every year now we get visitors to the site, but still not that many.
“There is a great story about a notorious old miser. He never gave the children any Christmas presents, instead he delighted in bringing them to Jerpoint and showing them Father Christmas’s grave.”
Born into a wealthy family, his parents died when he was young and Nicholas dedicated his life to serving God.
Inspired by Jesus’s teachings to “Sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” he spent all his inheritance helping the sick and needy.
One story tells of a poor peasant with three daughters, who could not afford the dowry to ensure they married and were saved from a life of slavery.
As he began to despair, on three separate nights as they came of age, bags of gold appeared in his home, seemingly tossed through a window or down the chimney as they slept, landing in shoes left by the fire.
The story inspired the tradition of children leaving out their stockings to be filled by Father Christmas.