Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Sunday 01 August |
Saint of the Day: St. Alphonsus Liguori
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Galilee gardener digs up Crusader-era St. Nicholas ring

Santa Claus Ring

Israel Antiquities Authority Official Channel / Youtube

Zelda Caldwell - published on 02/26/18

What is the most valuable thing you’ve ever found in your yard?

While 26-year-old Dekel Ben-Shitrit was doing some weeding in the garden at his Kibbutz in Israel, he found what turned out to be a rare 700-year–old bronze ring bearing the face of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of travelers.

“I rubbed it slightly and I saw it was carved with a human image inside a frame,” he later told the Times of Israel.

Ben-Shitrit then posted a photo of the ring on Facebook, asking whether anyone knew anything about its origin.

Yana Tchekhanovetz, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority soon got in touch, and examined the ring, dating it to the Crusader era, some time between the 12th and 15th centuries.

The ring features a picture of a man holding a staff appears to be St. Nicholas, who in Eastern Christianity was the patron saint of pilgrims and sailors.

“So Christian pilgrims to the Land of Israel from all over the Byzantine Empire (Turkey, the Balkans, Greece and present-day Russia) would carry his icon to protect them from harm. It is probable that the ring belonged to a pilgrim who sought the protection of St. Nicholas on his travels,” Tchekhanovetz told the Times of Israel.

The kibbutz where the ring was found was located in Lower Galilee near Roman Road used by Christian pilgrims on their way to sites in Mount Tabor, Nazareth and around the Sea of Galilee, according to the report.

St. Nicholas, known as Santa Claus, around the world, was a 4th century bishop of Myra (Turkey) remembered for his selfless works of charity.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Gold-winning Filipina Olympian shares her Miraculous Medal for th...
Cerith Gardiner
Simone Biles leaves the Olympics with an important lesson for her...
Mathilde De Robien
Did you know Princess Di was buried with a rosary?
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
Theresa Civantos Barber
The one thing we all should do before this summer ends
Zelda Caldwell
German women’s gymnastics teams modest dress protests sport’s ...
Lauren Daigle
J-P Mauro
After 3 years Lauren Daigle ousts herself from #1 Billboard spot
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.