ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — This Christmas, the Virginia Theological Seminary is reminding the public that Santa Claus is real; it’s transformed its Welcome Center into an exhibit about Saint Nicholas. 

The exhibit is Carol Myers’ donated collection of artifacts that tell Saint Nicholas’ story. The saint gave away his inheritance to feed the hungry, and is associated with thousands of stories around the protection of children.

VTS Dean and President Ian Markham says the exhibit aligns with VTS’s mission to serve others. “We capture the significance and meaning of Christmas once we understand Saint Nicholas and the meaning of that life dedicated to the service of others.”

Markham says VTS and Meyers aren’t quite sure how they’ll keep the exhibit alive past the holiday season, but the seminary will find a place to keep his memory alive, nonetheless. “Behind the secular Santa Claus is a person of deep faith who was transformative in the moment that he lived and who continues to be transformative in the way that he’s remembered,” said Markham.

Founded in 1823, the Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest Episcopal seminary in the United States. Markham says the seminary provides about 25 percent of clergy serving in parishes around the country.

The exhibit isn’t the only tie the seminary has to Christmas. Composer and alum Phillips Brooks, who wrote “The Little Town of Bethlehem,” lived on the Alexandria campus and later became a bishop in an Episcopal church.