Gardener discovers 700-year-old 'Santa Claus' ring in Israel

A picture made available on 26 February 2108, released by Israel Antiquities Authority show Israeli employees of the Israel Antiquities Authority holding a bronze rare ring from Middle Ages of St. Nicholas (EPA Photo)

A rare bronze ring bearing the figure of Santa Claus from the Middle Ages was discovered by a gardener in Jezreel Valley, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.

According to reports, the gardener identified as Dekel Ben-Shitrit found the 700-year-old-ring during landscaping work and posted a photo of it, which was spotted by Dr. Bror Ben-Yosef, the director of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority's Lower Galilee Education Center.

Dr. Ben-Yosef reportedly established contact between the gardener and the country's antiquities authority, which concluded that the ring had been well-preserved, and is believed to bear the image of St. Nicholas.

Dr. Yana Tchekhanovetz from the Israeli Antiquities Authority noted that St. Nicholas was considered by Orthodox Christians as the patron saint of travelers, pilgrims and sailors and that it was possible that a pilgrim had used it seeking protection during travels.

The gardener is expected to be awarded a good citizenship certificate for informing authorities about the discovery.

Saint Nicholas, also known as Nikolaos of Myra, was a fourth century Christian saint and Greek bishop in Myra, located on modern-day Turkey's southern Mediterranean coast. Known for his habit of gift giving he served as inspiration for the Dutch figure of "Sinterklaas," which eventually was shortened to "Santa Claus."