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Sun-Times/WBBM Religion Roundup: Results mixed on testing of Morton Grove relics

The Rev. Dennis O'Neill, founder of the Shrine of All Saints in Morton Grove. Testing by Oxford University scientists has found that relics at the shrine shrine could belong to St. Nicholas (inspiration for Santa Claus) and possibly St. Mildred — but not St. Thomas Becket.| Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

The Shrine of All Saints in Morton Grove has relics — including bones, hair and clothing — associated with roughly 1,800 saints. But are all of the items authentic?

Oxford University researchers have been studying several local relics from the Shrine of All Saints and recently concluded, through carbon dating, that a piece of pelvic bone from the shrine could indeed belong to St. Nicholas, the inspiration for Santa Claus.

Tests also appear to be promising on a piece of elbow bone said to have belonged to St. Mildred, who lived more than 1,000 years ago.

But tests of a rib bone thought possibly to be from St. Thomas Becket — a 12th Century bishop killed in his cathedral amid turmoil with England’s king — have shown it’s too old to be his, dating to the Third Century, though it might instead belong to an ancient martyr.

The researchers hope to be back to the shrine to test bones associated with St. Peter the apostle.

The Religion Roundup is also featured on WBBM Newsradio (780 AM and 105.9 FM) on Sundays at 6:22 a.m., 9:22 a.m. and 9:22 p.m. For more religion coverage, check out For tips and comments, email Robert Herguth at