Saint Nicholas - Bishop of Myra
When you research the archives of History for from whence came Santa Claus, you will invariably come across the name "Saint Nicholas".
It appears to have all started here. Saint Nicholas was an early Christian Bishop who presided over the Church in Myra, a city in Asia Minor. He lived from 280 AD to 346 AD. His remarkable childhood and his deep understanding of the church while still in youth, led him to become a high church official, well known as the "Boy Bishop". Many stories of good deeds were attributed to him in his lifetime and numerous miracles were bestowed to his name. His popularity is evidenced in the churches throughout Europe during those early centuries by the abundance of statuary and stained glass windows in his range.
Written stories of Saint Nicholas during his lifetime are few, for in accordance with the times, stories of his good deeds were passed on secretly by families from generation to generation. A little mystery in the beginning seemingly so appropriate for a character who has captured the hearts of so many.
In different coutries, Saint Nicholas became known as Sankt Nikolaus, Sint Nicolaas, Father Christmas, Pére Noël, Befana, Kris Kringle, Santa Klaas, and of course, the popular name of Santa Claus. Whatever the form of the name, he has remained a symbol of unselfish generosity, good cheer and joy throughout the centuries.
A couple of years ago I was in Montreal just prior to Christmas, we took a walk over to Centre de Commerce Mondial where they had a display throughout the Mall of different Santas from all over the world and throughout time. I didn't take pictures of all of them, but I did get a few. I'll post the ones I have between now and Christmas...
*the above text is taken from the display in Montreal.