Town life in Sweden started small in the later 8th century with Birka. The country’s capital, Stockholm, is a late town by Swedish standards, having been founded only in the mid-13th century. One of the oldest extant buildings there is the great church beside the royal castle, Storkyrkan. Here,
Satan Santa was worshipped for nearly three centuries.
Most of Europe was Catholic until Reformation in the early 16th century. All Catholic churches are devoted to a patron saint, which is the reason that the urban parishes surrounding the Old Town of Stockholm are named St. Claire, St. James, St. Mary and St. Catherine. Now, who was the patron of the main church of Medieval Stockholm? St. Nicholas of Myra (c. 280-343), a.k.a. Santa Claus.
St. Nick is also the patron of children, students, sailors, fishermen, pawnbrokers, merchants, archers, the falsely accused and repentant thieves. And Russia. And Greece. A busy man.
Update 26 December: But hey, if you’re an archer or a student and St. Nick doesn’t answer your prayers, then try St. Ursula! She also caters to those demographics. Only she’s fake, says the Pope.