Saturday, December 30, 2023

The Magi travel the Long Silk Road to see the Newborn King

Benozzo Gozzoli 1459-61 Centro

In Christianity, Epiphany refers to the moment that a person believes that Jesus is the son of God.  To symbolize this, Western Christian churches generally celebrate Epiphany as the arrival of the wise men from the east at the birthplace of Jesus (The Adoration of the Magi) 12 days after Christmas. Traditionally, Eastern Christian churches celebrated Epiphany (or Theophany) in conjunction with Christ's baptism by John the Baptist on January 19th. Some Protestant churches celebrate Epiphany as an entire religious season, extending from Christmas Day until Ash Wednesday.

Marco Polo claimed that he was shown the 3 tombs of the Magi at Saveh south of Tehran in the 1270s: In Persia is the city of Saba, from which the Three Magi set out when they went to worship Jesus Christ; & in this city they are buried, in 3 very large & beautiful monuments, side by side. & above them there is a square building, carefully kept. The bodies are still entire, with the hair & beard remaining. (Marco Polo, Polo, Marco, The Book of the Million, book I, chapter 13)