Bari, Basilica di San Nicolà, Crypt, reliquary shrine of St. Nicholas of Myra and Russian pilgrims
Scan of an analog photo taken in May 2007
The central altar of the crypt contains the relics of St. Nicholas of Myra, attracting busloads of Russian pilgrims.
The Pontifical Basilica di San Nicola (Basilica of Saint Nicholas) is a church in Bari, southern Italy that holds wide religious significance throughout Europe and the Christian world. The basilica is an important pilgrimage destination both for Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians from Eastern Europe.
The basilica was built between 1087 and 1197, during the Italo-Norman domination of Apulia, the area previously occupied by the Byzantine Catapan of which Bari was the seat. Its foundation is related to the recovery of some of the relics of Saint Nicholas from the saint’s original shrine in Myra, in what is now Turkey. When Myra passed into the hands of the Saracens, some saw it as an opportunity to move the saint's relics to a safer location. According to the justifying legend, the saint, passing by the city on his way to Rome, had chosen Bari as his burial place.