Celebrating the Courage of the Wise Men

The Epiphany of the Lord celebrates Christ’s manifestation to the Gentiles,  to us, symbolized by Christ’s manifestation to the Magi or the Wise Men. For me, Epiphany also triggers a longing for more of His presence.


Ladislav Zaborsky

On Epiphany, we ask God to not only shine His light in our hearts but to protect our homes with His light as well. So, we mark above each doorway with the wise men’s initials plus a sign of the cross and year: 20+C+B+M+16  because tradition tells us the wise men who came to honor Jesus were called Gaspar (or Caspar), Melchior, and Balthasar. This tradition dates to the 6th century. The names mean- Master-of-Treasure, King, and Protect-the-King.


St. Bede the Venerable on the Magi:

The first was called Melchior. He was an old man, with white hair and a long beard; he offered gold to the Lord as to his King. The second, Gaspar by name, young, beardless, of ruddy hue, offered to Jesus his gift of incense, the homage due to Divinity. The third, of black complexion, with heavy beard, was middle-aged and called Balthasar. The myrrh he held in his hand prefigured the death of the son of Man ( The Catholic Source Book).

The Journey of the Magi , 1894 by James Tissot
John Duncan’s painting, “Adoration of the Magi” 1915.

Around the 14th century, the magi were said to represent the three known races of the time, European, Asian, and African.

Whatever the truth, the wise men were brave, curious and open to God’s inspiration as they studied the Hebrew Scriptures and the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. Among these, they found the words of Balaam: “A Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17, ).
An ancient mosaic in Ravenna showing the three wise men
The magi must have been acquainted with the prophecy of Micah:“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel” (Micah 5:2).
Father John Giuliani
Chiefs Come From the East to See Jesus
download (3)
Adoration of the Magi, 1308 by Duccio Di Buoninsegn
On the night of Christ’s birth, a mysterious light appeared in the sky which became a luminous star that persisted in the western heavens.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.
Matthew 2:1,2
The Adoration of the Magi, or The Epiphany is a triptych oil painting on wood panel by the Netherlandish artist Hieronymus Bosch, executed around 1485-1500.
The Adoration of the Magi or The Epiphany is a triptych oil painting on wood panel by the Netherlandish artist Hieronymus Bosch, executed around 1485-1500.
The Adoration of the Magi (circa 1305)
Impressed with its import, they determined to go in search of the Messiah. They knew not where they were to go but followed as the guiding star led them.
The Star of Bethlehem c.1885-1890 260 -Sir Edward Burne-Jones depicting the Adoration of the Magi

Opening Prayer for the Epiphany of Our Lord

Let us pray
[that we may be guided by the light of faith.]
you revealed your Son to the nations
by the guidance of a star.
Lead us to your glory in heaven
by the light of faith.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
New Saint Joseph Sunday Missal

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