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The Science of Santa Claus: Discussions on the Manna of Nicholas of Myra in the Modern Age

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Nicholas of Myra, a bishop who lived between the third and fourth centuries AD, is considered to be the historical character on which the legendary figure of Santa Claus is based. His bones, which were brought to Bari in the Italian region of Apulia in 1087, are known in the Christian world for a particular trait: they exude a substance, considered miraculous by some, called manna. The aim of this paper is to reconstruct the debate that was conducted on natural philosophical grounds during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries on the origins and nature of this liquid.

Affiliations: 1: Università di Bari, Italy, Email:, URL:


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