Rorate Caeli

Another barefaced insult from the Turks

AFP - Turkey will ask for the return of the bones of Saint Nicholas, who Father Christmas is modelled on, from their display in Italy, local media reported on Friday. (Of course, the bones of St. Nicholas are not "on display" in Bari; these were taken to Bari in order to be saved from desecration! CAP)

Saint Nicholas, from the modern-day town of Demre on southern Turkey's Mediterranean coast, is, according to tradition, the ancestor of Father Christmas, but his remains were stolen by Italian pirates in the 11th century.

"These bones should be exposed here and not in a town of pirates" in Bari, said Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay, quoted in the newspaper Milliyet.

"If we build a museum in this town (Demre), naturally the first thing we will ask for are the remains of Father Christmas".

The minister gave no schedule for the museum construction, which would exhibit relics of ancient civilisations, but said that after a study by experts, Turkey would request that Italy return the remains of Saint Nicholas.

Many tourists, especially from Russia, visit the Saint Nicholas church in today's Demre, a fifth-century Byzantine basilica rebuilt in the 11th century.

Nicholas was a bishop in ancient Myra (Demre) in the fourth century, during the Byzantine period.

He was buried in Myra, but pirates stole his remains in the 11th century and brought them to Bari in southern Italy, placing them in its own Saint Nicholas basilica.

Saint Nicholas is celebrated for his charity, and his generosity towards others is at the origin of the character of Father Christmas, who took Nicholas's place in Christianity as the giver of presents to children.

From France 24.

BBC helpfully adds that:

Even without the bones, the town of Demre has not been shy about cashing in on its most famous native son - today visitors to the Byzantine church there are greeted by a large, plastic Santa statue, complete with beard and red snow-suit.

(The Byzantine church is currently in ruins, a casualty of Turkey's long-running campaign against Christianity.)

Click here to find out more!

45 comments:

Hugo Mendez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joel said...

That is the Hypocrisy of Islam... How can they ask for the bones or relics of St. Nicolas and display it in a museum when they do not know anything about sacred relics? If there is one place it should rest it is with the Byzantine Church or Eastern Othodox Church... the should open Halki and return the Agia Sophia to their righful owners!

Louis Figueroa said...

I think St. Nicholas is fine where he is, but since we are on the topic of asking for things how about the return of the Hagia Sophia to Christendom? I think if Turkey wants to start exchanging stolen things, they can start with giving that back.

Turgay said...

I am a Turkish Christian and I find the title of this post offensive. "Another" barefaced insult by the Turks - as if my people are engaged in unending "barefaced" insults. How dare you!

The return of items that are rightfully Turkey's by all the poachers of the world is not an unreasonable demand. Those items are, shock horror, OURS! And in the case of the remains of St Nicolas, their return would be a wonderful symbol of hope for Christian Turks who have fought ceaselessly over the centuries for acceptance here.

In future, stick to posts about what you know, Paland, which seems to be every trifling happening in the Philippines, your own country, regardless of insignificance.

Jack said...

Its really quite simple, they can have the bones of St Nicolas back when every last turk converts and submits to the Roman Pontiff

J. G. Ratkaj said...

another shout of derision of the "cane turco"(@ Clement VIII). In europe catholic churches, chapels are desecrated on a regular basis by evil mohammedan youth gangs including this infidel Turks, of course in a hedonistic and indifferent continent with its more or less inept episcopate such defilements cause no greater outcry neither in the media nor in the society. To hand over relics of any saint to this wicked state of turkey would be a sacrilege.

Fr William R. Young said...

This should not be regarded as an insult, but as an opportunity to evangelise the Turks. If they truly want St Nicholas's relics to return, then there must be an appropriate shrine to receive them. That will surely require the rebuilding and endowment of the byzantine basilica, and its staffing by appropriate clergy. Perhaps the prayers of St Nicholas will begin the conversion of the Turkish people. Rebarbative comments by Christians ("Another barefaced insult from the Turks") are not going to win us friends. I often wonder if it was attitudes like this that actually made the task of presenting Christianity as something attractive to the Turks so difficult, especially after Manzikert.

Gideon Ertner said...

They want the body of our Saint in a museum?

Note that this is the voice of secular Turkey speaking, not Muslim Turkey. Muslims would never stoop so low - they would either show tacit honour to the relics of a Christian Saint or blow them up.

Gideon Ertner said...

Have you guys read Messa in latino today? Fr. Vincenzo Nuara and Fr. de Andrade for the PCED! Deo Gratias!!!

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

Dear Fr. Young:

Your comments are well-taken, but given the innumerable offenses against the Christian religion that the Turks have committed, I think that we are fully justified in describing their historic attitude towards Christianity for what it is -- condescending, insulting, and hostile.

Turgay and Sultan:

I have published your comments so the readers of this blog can have, before their very eyes, fine examples of Turkish "tolerance" -- the very same tolerance that has reduced the Greek Orthodox population of Turkey to less than 10,000 (from 2 million prior to the massacres and infamous "population exchanges" of the 1920's).

"Protection" for Christian churches in Turkey? Protection FROM use as churches, yes. A fine kind of protection, indeed!

Anonymous said...

"since we are on the topic of asking for things how about the return of the Hagia Sophia to Christendom? "

Why only Hagia Sophia? They should return entire Asia Minor to the Christendom.

The Germans constantly apologize for the Nazis. It's time the Turks should begin their penance for the Ottomans.

Gideon Ertner said...

Turgay,

There is no-one here who is objecting to the return of the relics to Turkey per se - if that means returning them to rest as an object of veneration in a Catholic or possibly even an Orthodox church.

What we are up in arms about is the notion that they should be returned to reside in a museum - a profane place where they would not be giving glory to God but would be giving profit to the owners.

Anonymous said...

If the modern Catholic Church had any real men still in it, they would say, "you want these bones?, come and try to take them!" Only militant, orthodox Catholicism , with a very large assist from Our Lady, has ever been able to defeat rabid, militant mohammedism. Pray that the Holy Father finally consecrates Russia soon. Pray the Rosary. Amen.

Anonymous said...

"There is no-one here who is objecting to the return of the relics to Turkey per se - if that means returning them to rest as an object of veneration in a Catholic or possibly even an Orthodox church."

I object. They will not be safe there. They will be used by the anti-Christian Turks as a mean of propaganda.

Tony said...

Palad writes:

"Protection" for Christian churches in Turkey? Protection FROM use as churches, yes. A fine kind of protection, indeed!

The House of the Virgin Mary to which Sultan refers is under 24/7 armed protection by the Turkish army and under the control of Catholic religious who use it daily as a place of Catholic worship. Get your facts straight.

There are many more sites of Christian worship in Turkey where Christianity is in no way outlawed or "protected from" but rather "protected for" Christian use. The only thing that is a "barefaced insult" (whatever that is - the English collocation is "barefaced lie") is to claim otherwise.

Gideon Ertner said...

Sultan,

are you a Christian? Methinks you are the ignorant one. I have met several Turkish Christians and they all attest to the fact that anti-Christianity is very much alive and well in Turkey. In 2006, 3 Turkish Christians were murdered in Malatya for the 'crime' of publishing Christian literature and a Catholic priest was killed over the Muhammad Cartoon Crisis. The Turkish state has confiscated numerous Christian properties, among them the seminary of the Greek Orthodox Church in Istanbul which they have closed, slowly choking the Greek Church in the city to death - only 2,000 remain, down from more than 200,000 only 50 years ago. Take your Turkish supremacist lies somewhere else please.

Anonymous said...

If the modern Catholic Church had any real men still in it, they would say, "you want these bones?, come and try to take them!" Only militant, orthodox Catholicism , with a very large assist from Our Lady, has ever been able to defeat rabid, militant mohammedism.

Read Holy Father's letter for the New Year. Christians are peaceful and care for natural environment. We should turn the other cheek. You show a very unchristian spirit. Love your Turkish neighbors. The relics are just dust of this earth, the Turks are human beings.

Pray the Rosary. Amen.

Take your own advice. People who gather at the Rosary in my parish are all peaceful old ladies who would have never approved your unchrisitan militarism deprived of charity and peace of soul. Remember that anger is a sin.

"Anyone who is angry with a brother will be subjected to judgment." Matthew 5,22

"If someone wants to sue you and to take your tunic, give him your coat also." Matthew 5,40

We should give the relics back to Turkey.

AND FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US.

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

"The House of the Virgin Mary to which Sultan refers is under 24/7 armed protection by the Turkish army and under the control of Catholic religious who use it daily as a place of Catholic worship. Get your facts straight."

An exception that proves the rule.

If only the hundreds of (now devastated) Greek Orthodox churches in northern Cyprus, and the innumerable destroyed and abandoned churches and monasteries in Turkey, had the same protection...

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

"Remember that anger is a sin"

There is such a thing as righteous anger.

Anonymous said...

There were more than 100 Chrisitan military orders, used in the Reconquist, the Crusades and elsewhere, over an extent of at least 600 years.

Some of them exist to this day. Although they do not exercise military activity today, it doesn't mean that they have renounced it forever.

If you think that there's something wrong with the Crusades, the Reconquista or Christian Military Orders in itself, then you can hardly be called Catholic.

I understand that you may have no idea about moral theology or be influenced by Protestanto-pacifist spirit but just think, if the Holy Spirit allowed the official, canonical existence of military orders for a thousand years then either it is right, or the gates of Hell have prevailed...

All the holy Crusaders, pray for us!

Dominic Mary said...

If we are Catholics, then we must be just; but justice does not necessarily mean giving in to everything we are asked to do.

Equally, justice is not 'tit for tat' - 'we won't give the relics back until you give us Agia Sofia !'

It would clearly be contrary to Canon Law to return the Relics to a secular museum; but there is no reason why they could not be returned to the competent ecclesiastical authority in Turkey, IF that was asked for, and IF appropriate arrangements for their custody and care - and, presumably, public veneration - were made.

What seems to me to be most important, though, is that this suggestion - and as far as I can see it's no more than that at present - should not become a cause of hatred, or division, whether between groups of Christians, or between men in general.

I wonder what S. Nicholas would have said ?

Anonymous said...

A very fitting post on the day when we celebrate the Christian victory over Islam during the Battle of Granada (1492). As a previous reader posted "You want the Relics of St. Nicholas? Come and try to get them!"

Jacob said...

From the article:

Saint Nicholas, from the modern-day town of Demre on southern Turkey's Mediterranean coast, is, according to tradition, the ancestor of Father Christmas, but his remains were stolen by Italian pirates in the 11th century.

The remains were removed to Bari during the Byzantine Empire. I would think the Greeks would have a better claim than the Turks, Christians or no. The Turks don't even call Myrna Myrna, so how can they claim any association with St. Nicholas of Myrna?

Garrett said...

The most egregiously offensive comment I have read on this particular combox is the one by anonymous, referring to the SACRED RELICS of a saint as "dust of the earth." The comment seems to imply that we should just toss holy relics aside, and that they mean nothing.

I'm all for freedom of speech, but such a thought is so blatantly anti-Catholic that I wonder if it should not be removed.

Michael said...

Let's trade: St. Nick's relics for the return of Hagia Sophia to the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Stefan said...

"Protection" for Christian churches in Turkey? Protection FROM use as churches, yes. A fine kind of protection, indeed!"

Mr. Palad,

100% agree. I am of the opinion that our Patriarch should move out of Turkey to Greece. This is the feeling of many of us, Orthodox Christians. But the Patriarch wants to stay. We pray for him.
See interview:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6001717n&tag=contentBody;housing

Jordanes said...

The Turkish state has absolutely no legal or moral right to the relics of the Catholic St. Nicholas of Myra. The Turkish state didn't even exist at the time the relics were seized from the territory of the Eastern Roman Empire and brought to Bari, Italy. Just because the Turkish state is successor of the Ottoman Empire, which illegally stole the territory of the Eastern Roman Empire in which St. Nicholas' relics used to be kept, that doesn't give Turkey any rights to his relics. If the Turks want Italy to return his stolen relics, then they too should return the lands which their ancestors stole from the Christians.

St. Nicholas' remains are not antiquities to be used as a tourist attraction by a quasi-secular/quasi-Muslim nation state. Nor are they in the possesion of the secular Italian state. They are sacramentals that belong exclusively to the Holy Catholic Church, meaning they belong to God, meaning they are for the benefit of the entire human race and not to be held by a nation which does not profess the Catholic faith.

Jordanes said...

If, however, the Turks convert to the Christian faith, by all means let the relics of St. Nicholas be returned to Myra.

Jordanes said...

Love your Turkish neighbors.

Loving our Turkish neighbors does not require us to give them Christian sacramentals to which they haven't the slightest shred of a right.

The relics are just dust of this earth, the Turks are human beings.

And human beings are just dust of this earth. St. Nicholas of Myra is in fact more of a human being today than we and the Turks are.

You do not have a Catholic belief in the dignity and virtue of saints' relics.

unchrisitan militarism deprived of charity and peace of soul.

Jesus commanded us not to usurp the place of God as Judge. Your comment does just that. You simply have no way of knowing which of the commenters here, if any, entertain an unchristian militarism deprived of charity and peace of soul -- unless you have the ability to read the souls of persons you've never met?

Remember that anger is a sin.

No it isn't. If it were, the Holy Spirit would not have told us, "Be angry and do not sin."

You do not have a Catholic belief regarding human passions and emotions.

We should give the relics back to Turkey.

What do you mean "back"? They have never in history been in the possession of Ataturk's secular Turkish state.

Anonymous said...

Bari needs to have its own special museum, one to commemorate the Armenian Holocaust of 1915. The time has come.

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

Turgay,

Come, come, the Turkish Government's request was obviously a riposte to the decision in Switzerland to ban the minarets. Let's not get silly here.

I think that many Christians fear returning the relics to a country which has an overwhelming Muslim majority, even if it is a secular state at present. You seem to think that the relics belong to a country. No, they belong to a Faith and should be enshrined where they are safest. Once the error is Islam is routed and Turkey becomes the Christian State it should be, the relics can be returned. Once the Hagia Sophia is returned to Christian use as a church, we shall know that the Turkish Government is serious.

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

"should not become a cause of hatred, or division, whether between groups of Christians, or between men in general."

I love that humanist babble. People afraid to cause "hatred" or "division" are guilty of TENS OF MILLIONS OF DEATHS. This is not what Our Lord taught us. Division and separation is clear in the Gospel. If we had attacked Hitler in 1936 when he was breaking the Treaty of Versailles by remilitarizing Nordrhein we wouldn't have had WWII and the Holocaust. Always remember that.

dcs said...

The relics are just dust of this earth, the Turks are human beings.

If the relics are just dust of the earth, then why on earth should the Turks care about them?

Anonymous said...

In fact, it is taught that one sins by not being duly irate. http://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/n007rp_Irate.htm

Cheryl said...

I think that instead of us arguing over everyone's valid points, we should be praying for our fellow Christians in Turkey and elsewhere who suffer at the hands of the muslims. I think Turgay nakes a valid point though "And in the case of the remains of St Nicolas, their return would be a wonderful symbol of hope for Christian Turks who have fought ceaselessly over the centuries for acceptance here."
May Our Lord and His Sweet Mother Mary be their comfort and strength.
Cheryl

J. G. Ratkaj said...

Even to restitute the holy relics to His All Holiness the besieged Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople himself would be dangerous. Militant Islam in Turkey is boosted under the current AKP-government with its head Erdogan who denoting said a short while ago: 'the mosques are our barracks, the minarets our bayonets, the domes our helmets, and the believers our soldiers.' Under such unfavorable circumstances the safety of the holy relics would not be ensured by any means in this country.

Anonymous said...

...and suddenly the rad-trads fell in love with Orthodox schismatics. Just like the Roman Cardinal Isidore of Kiev concelebrating with the Orthodox the last Divine Liturgy in Hagia Sophia in the morning of May 29, 1453.

Jordanes said...

You're ignorant of history, Anonymous. The reunion Council of Florence had been held just a few years prior to 1453. Cardinal Isidore did not concelebrate with any schismatics on 29 May 1453.

Dymphna said...

St. Nicholas wasn't Turkish. Tell them to buzz off.

Honeybee said...

My family is from Bari. St. Nicholas is venerated there in a basilica not gawked at in a museum. I hope the Pope doesn't return him to heretics who only want to snatch something else from the west. If the Pope is so inclined I would agree to give them a finger...which finger should be at the discretion of the local townspeople of Bari.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

There is no national government on this planet which has any claim over the relics of St. Nicholas. When the Roman Emperor reclaims his throne in Constantinople and the cross is once again mounted on the domes of Hagia Sophia we can revisit this topic. Until then it is best that the relics remain where they are. As an Orthodox Christian I would love to advocate for their return to the Ecumenical Patriarch. But the unhappy truth is the EP's position in modern Turkey is tenious at best. The persecution of the Greek Orthodox Church in that county is too well documented to seriously debate.

Leave them where they are as long as they are accessible to all for veneration.

In ICXC
John

Steve Hayes said...

If they want the bishop's bones, let them have his flock as well. Instead of housing the bones in a museum, let the Turkish Ministry of Culture rebuild the ruined church, and allow Christians to worship there once more. If they aren't willing to do that, then Muslim complaints about the Swiss ban on building minarets are just hypocritical.

Anonymous said...

"When the Roman Emperor reclaims his throne in Constantinople..."

I'm all for the Roman Empire, maybe not necessarily in its Byzantine flavor, but I don't think it is possible in a foreseeable future. Maybe in case we had converted European Union first...

Also, the Orthodox are free to celebrate Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine Catholic church in Bari (they're not lefebrists, after all), and the Moscow Patriarchate has been recently given a retreat home for pilgrims in the city, so I can't imagine more comfortable situation for them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtYXIyyZk2Y

JaymesFL said...

Many of the holy relics, including first class relics of our beloved Orthodox / Catholic Saints of God that were 'stolen' by Western Christians, Crusaders, etc., would have long ago been destroyed and defiled by the Mohammedans. God works in mysterious ways and the Crusaders knew the approaching Mohammedan infidels would have no respect for relics, holy sites and sacramentals. The Latin Church literally SAVED these things by moving them westward. Isn't it obvious that the Turkish government is seeing dollar signs in their eyes with an influx of tourism and masquerading this as 'veneration' for Saint Nicholas? (Thank you Cesaro Papism!)

Anonymous said...

JamesFL,

"Many of the holy relics, including first class relics of our beloved Orthodox / Catholic Saints of God that were 'stolen' by Western Christians, Crusaders, etc."

The relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker were taken from Bari when Bari was already occupied by Seljuk Turks. It was or duty to "steal" them. People who condemn Crusaders for "stealing" holy relics often forget that relics belong rightfully to the Church, and looting was an ordinary punishment for political betrayal, the notorious "fides Graeca".