Monday, August 17, 2015

The Tomb of the Three

The Shrine of the Three Kings
The Three Kings, or Magi, appear suddenly in the Gospel of Matthew and just as quickly disappear. That paucity of information on them did not, however, prevent Christendom from tracking them down and making relics out of them.

It is supposed that they were so moved by their experience in the Gospel that they converted to Christianity, either on their own when they returned to their home country or later in life when they first encountered one of the Apostles.

Marco Polo tells us that he was shown their tomb:
In Persia is the city of Saba, from which the Three Magi set out and in this city they are buried, in three very large and beautiful monuments, side by side. And above them there is a square building, beautifully kept. The bodies are still entire, with hair and beard remaining.
This must be untrue, however, since clearly they have relics that were kept originally in Constantinople, where they (along with countless other relics) were gathered by the Empress (later Saint) Helena. They were then offered to Bishop Eustorgius I of Milan by Constantine. It is the biography of Eustorgius that tells their history.

They stayed in Milan until Barbarossa took them and gave them to the Archbishop of Cologne, who built Cologne Cathedral to house their golden reliquary. The foundation stone of Cologne Cathedral was laid on 15 August, 1248.

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