25 December 2009

The Real Saint Nicholas

Is this the real Santa Claus? By tradition, no one is supposed to see the actual Saint Nick ... Until, that is, the invention of powerful computers and some fancy new software that uses "virtual clay." The technology makes possible the reconstruction of a face from a skull, even one as old as that of Nicholas of Myra -- also known as Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus -- who lived and died in the fourth century in what is now Turkey.

So holy was Nicholas that after his death his relics were carefully preserved, and through the vagaries of history -- basically a Muslim-Christian war a thousand years ago -- the saint's skull and other bones were relocated (stolen or rescued, depending on your point of view) to Bari, a city on what would be the Achilles' tendon of the Italian boot.

In the 1950s, the bones were removed while the crypt was spruced up. While they were out, the Vatican asked an anatomy professor at the University of Bari to take thousands of minutely detailed measurements and x-rays of the relics. Flash forward to the present day, and another University of Bari expert, forensic pathologist Francesco Introna, decided to commission an expert facial anthropologist, Caroline Wilkinson of the University of Manchester in England, to reconstruct the saint's face and head using the new technology and the earlier measurements. The wizards at Image Foundry in England then took the data, and presto!

Read the entire article at Politics Daily

Image Foundry

No comments: