A garden in Moshav Hayogev in the Lower Galilee, Israel, unearthed a rare, intact bronze ring bearing an image of the traveler’s patron saint, St. Nicholas. The ring is said to be 700 years old.
The gardener Dekel Ben-Shitrit noticed something unusual in the planting bed while doing a routine session of weeding. Yana Tchekhanovetz, an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist who specializes in the Byzantine period, dated the ring to some time between the Crusader and Mamluke periods – from the 12th to the 15 centuries. The image depicts a bald smiling man holding a staff appearing to be St. Nicholas with his hallmark bishop’s crook. According to the researchers St Nicholas was considered the patron saint of travel, including of pilgrims and sailors, so Christian pilgrims to the Land of Israel from all over the Byzantine Empire (Turkey, the Balkans, Greece and present-day Russia) would carry his icon to protect them from harm. It is probable that the ring belonged to a pilgrim who sought the protection of St. Nicholas on his travels.
(after Clara Amit & The Times of Israel)