Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Meeting Men of Mystery

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Meeting Men of Mystery

Article excerpt

MEN OF MYSTERY THE 12 Days of Christmas are nearly over.

The shepherds have gone back to the hills, the innkeeper's hoovered up the stable and the Holy Family is getting ready to leave for Egypt.

On Monday, it's Epiphany and the three Wise Men are due to call in with their gifts.

But who were those Wise Men? St Matthew in his Gospel hardly makes it clear.

He doesn't even say how many there were. Could have been a dozen. As for being Kings, there's no mention. He calls them magi or magicians and they never came to the stable!

Matthew says they found the holy family in a house! Yet of all parts in the Christmas Story, the visit of the Wise Men is the favourite.

Down the centuries, Christians have loved the colour, the drama, the surprise. The first time they were called Kings was in the 2nd century when they were given names, Kaspar, Melchior and Balthazar.

They had black, white and yellow skins but it wasn't until the 10th century that artists put crowns on their heads.

The Empress Helena claimed to have found their relics and these are kept in Cologne Cathedral to this day!

The Epiphany has given rise to many ceremonies. At Epiphany the Queen will offer gold, frankincense and myrrh at the altar of the Chapel Royal.

In Austria, villagers dressed as kings will go from house to house greeting people and receiving hospitality. To show that a house has been visited they sign their initials, "K.M.B." over the door (in chalk).

In the Eastern Churches, the feast of the Epiphany is the major festival of Christmas.

The whole point of the story is that Christ was born for all people, whatever the colour of skin. The magi travelled many miles to find him.

Was it a symbolic pilgrimage or the first sponsored walk? Whatever it was, Christmas wouldn't be the same without the Three Kings. Long may they reign. …

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