Jeremy Seal is a writer, broadcaster and tour guide. He has an especially extensive knowledge of Turkey, the backdrop to several of his books, among them Santa: A Life, an account of the remarkable after-life of St Nicholas. Nicholas, the third-century Byzantine bishop of Myra, now the modern Turkish town of Demre, was so revered that – as the patron of sailors, children, perfumiers, pawnbrokers and numerous others besides – he went on to become the most influential of saints across Christendom, not least in Greece and Russia.
Even in Britain, it is said, more churches carry his dedication than any other saint except for Mary the Virgin. Nicholas’s story ranges across two millennia, touching on early church history, the Crusades and the Reformation,x and also includes the removal of his relic bones in 1087 to Bari in Italy. But it has been his more recent transformation into Santa Claus, a process centred on 19th-century Manhattan, for which he is especially noted.
Jeremy, the author of six acclaimed books of non-fiction, tells this story not as a dry historical account but as vivid epic, showing how a legendary figure has courted devotion through history. Join Jeremy and Lucinda Hawksley on 23 December, for a special and seasonal Inside Story.