(RNS) On the eve of the Feast of St. Nicholas, the Vatican gave theGreek Orthodox bishop of Detroit a box believed to contain the relics ofSt. Nicholas, the patron saint of children.

"To all of us, it is a visible sign of love and mutual affection, asrelics are part of the tradition of both churches," said Cardinal AdamMaida, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Detroit, during a ceremonyWednesday (Dec. 5) in which he presented the bone fragments to BishopNicholas of Detroit.

The service was held at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Troy,Mich.

The Vatican had housed the relics -- bone fragments kept in asterling silver box -- since 1453, but chose to deliver them to theGreek Orthodox Church in Detroit after Maida and Ecumenical PatriarchBartholomew, spiritual leader of Orthodoxy, formed a friendship duringBartholomew's visit to Detroit last year, the Associated Press said.

The feast day of the man thought to have inspired the Santa Clauslegend is observed on Dec. 6.