A translation of a medieval document reveals that William the Conqueror made the abbey a gift of a relic of St. Nicholas.
The document contains a 580-year-old inventory of 175 objects given to Battle Abbey, according to Michael Carter, a historian at English Heritage, an organization that oversees the maintenance of historical sites in England.
According to a CNN report, the gifted relics came from William the Conqueror, who took over the English throne after winning the Battle of Hastings in 1066. He then had Battle Abbey built on the site of his victory.
Among the relics listed were a hair shirt and finger bone from St. Nicholas (also known as Santa Claus) and relics from Christ’s birthplace in Bethlehem, including a fragment of the manger that served as Christ’s crib. According to the inventory, William the Conqueror also gave the abbey several relics of the Holy Innocents, the remains of the infant boys killed in Bethlehem by order of King Herod.
“It’s fascinating how connections to our Christmas today, can be traced back almost a thousand years and despite Henry VIII’s violent suppression (of the monasteries during the English Reformation), these great monasteries are still giving up their secrets,” Carter told CNN.
His research on the Battle Abbey is published in the December issue of The Journal of Medieval Monastic Studies.
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