Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Three Wise Men - Feast of Epiphany also called "The Adortion of the Magi" January 6, 2010 a.k.a. 3 Kings Day

3 Rexes is Latin for Three Kings

The twelve days of Christmas end with the Feast of Epiphany also called "The Adoration of the Magi" or "The Manifestation of God." Celebrated on January 6, it is known as the day of the Three Kings (or wise men/magi): Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.

We are told that the three wise men, named Melchior, Balthazar, and Caspar, are the kings of "Ind, Chaldea, and Persia." They only meet on the outskirts of Jerusalem having traveled from their own lands "in great haste" and without stopping. And so they reach Bethlehem and present their gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh). When the kings depart, they continue together until the reach the Hill of Vaws, or Hill of Victory, on the border of Ind, where a watchtower was maintained (it was here that the Star was first sighted). There, before departing to their own countries, the three made "a fair chapel in worship of the Child they had sought. Also they agreed to meet together at the same place once in the year, and they ordained that the Hill of Vaws should be the place of their burial."

Gold, Incense and Myrrh in the Hands of Gaudi's Three Wise Men (Spain).

In the 4th century A.D., Constantine began rebuilding the city of Byzantium. He rededicated it as Constantinople in the year 330. In the same period, Helena (Constantine's Mother) went to the Holy Land and collected various relics, including the true cross, and brought them home to Constantinople. The relics of the wise men were among her trophies: "Queen Helen...began to think greatly of the bodies of these three kings, and she arrayed herself, and accompanied by many attendants, went into the Land of Ind...after she had found the bodies of Melchior, Balthazar, and Casper, Queen Helen put them into one chest and ornamented it with great riches, and she brought them into Constantinople...and laid them in a church that is called Saint Sophia."

The relics were moved several times over the centuries - The emperor Mauricius, who had them placed in a church in Milan. Frederick I, the Holy Roman Emperor gratefully presented the relics of the wise men in 1164 to the Archbishop of Cologne, Rainald von Dassel.

And, in Cologne, Germany, there is a gilded shrine that, if you choose to believe, has held the remains of the wise men since the middle ages. Look closely, you can see 3 skulls wearing crowns.

Three of the gifts are explicitly identified in Matthew — gold, frankincense and myrrh; It has been suggested by scholars that the "gifts" were in fact medicinal rather than precious material for tribute.

Myrrh - the Gift given by Caspar, a king from Tarsus (present day Southern Turkey). At the time of Christ, the world’s finest Myrrh came from Southern Arabia and it is generally thought that this was the origins of Caspar’s gift. Myrrh was among the most valuable substances known and, at the time of the birth of Christ, it was worth seven times its weight in gold. It can be used as an incense & In ancient times, myrrh was used in the mummification of the Pharos in Ancient Egypt and to anoint kings.

Frankincense - the Gift given by Balthasar, a king from Saba - present day Oman and Yemen. Frankincese is resin from the dried sap of the Boswellia tree – a tree that has grown on the craggy slopes of the Arabian Sea for thousand of years. In ancient times, Frankincense was as equally valuable as Gold & is used as incense in sacred ceremonies.

Gold - the Gift given by Melchior, a king of Arabia. He is said to have been the oldest of the Three Kings.

Cologne Cathedral - (Where the 3 Kings shrine resides today) stands on the site of a 4th century Roman temple, followed by a square church known as the "oldest cathedral" commissioned by Maternus, the first Christian bishop of Cologne. A second church built on the site, the "Old Cathedral" was completed in 818. This burned down on April 30, 1248.

More info about the Kings: