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Religious service held in Demre's St. Nicholas church

ANTALYA - Doğan News Agency | 12/20/2009 12:00:00 AM |

A religious service was held on Saturday at the Church of St. Nicholas in the Mediterranean coastal town of Demre.

A religious service was held on Saturday at the Church of St. Nicholas in the Mediterranean coastal town of Demre.

The service, which was attended by 72 Russian Orthodox tourists and six ecclesiastics, was organized with special permission from the Culture and Tourism Ministry as the church now serves as a museum.

Archbishop Mark, the Russian clergyman who headed the ceremony, said St. Nicholas, who is also known as Santa Claus, was born in Patara and died in Demre, and that his grave is located in the building where the ceremony was held. He noted that St. Nicholas was a very important figure for Russian Orthodox and many Russians are expected to visit the church in Demre. He also thanked the authorities for granting permission for the service.

Faruk Öyrük, an official from the tour company that brought the Russian tourists, said it was the company’s first step in its efforts to promote faith tourism.

St. Nicholas, born in A.D. 245 in Patara near Fethiye, died in A.D. 326, having spent his life in Anatolia. Because of the assistance he rendered to those around him, St. Nicholas was known as the protector of children and sailors.

After he died, he was buried in Demre and a church was built there in his memory.

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