The magi shrine

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  • Today is Epiphany. A Christian holiday celebrating three holy kings, also known as three wise men or the Magi visiting baby Jesus. Everyone knows the standard story; They saw a star in the East, recognized that it means the birth of a king, so they brought presents : gold, frankincense and myrrh.
    Some people also know that myrrh is a dried oleo resin of Commiphora species of trees. It smells nice and it was used in ointments, soaps etc.
    Few people know that frankincense and myrrh were priced at their weight in gold back in those days. One ounce of gold, myrrh or frankincense was of the same value and thus equally worthy gifts.
    There are however some facts about the three wise men that very few people these days know. Read on and join the club:
  • Fact 1 : January 6th was the original Christmas
    Eastern Orthodox churches still celebrate the birth of Jesus on January the 6th. In A.D. 361, Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus quotes St. Epiphanius who says that January 6 is "hemera genethlion toutestin epiphanion" (Christ's "Birthday; that is, His Epiphany").
    The earliest known reference to the December 25 being the birthday of Jesus is found in the Chronography of 354, an illuminated manuscript compiled in Rome. It says that in the East, early Christians celebrated the birth of Christ as part of Epiphany on January 6.
    Sometimes between 340 AD and 350 AD (sources disagree on exact date) Cyril of Jerusalem writes to Pope Julius I and asks him to assign the true date of the nativity "from census documents brought by [Roman Emperor] Titus to Rome". Julius assigned 25 December. This date corresponds to pagan celebrations of Mithras (and some other pre-Christian deities). However, this is the date the western Christians still celebrate as the birthday of Christ, while Eastern Christian churches still celebrate it on the January 6th.
    The word for Christmas comes from late Old English "Cristes Maesse", the Mass of Christ, first found in 1038.
  • Fact 2 : At first the story was about the 12 wise men
    The first extant painting of the kings bringing gifts to the Christ child is in the Priscilla Catacomb of Rome dating from the 2nd century AD. It shows 12 kings bringing gifts to the baby Jesus. Some eastern christians still hold the tradition of the 12 magi.
    Fact 3: The three Magi were represented as three races, three known continents and three age groups
    The earliest known reference to the names of the three kings comes from 387 AD manuscript "Excerpta Latina Barbari" page 51B:
    "At that time in the reign of Augustus, on 1st January the Magi brought him gifts and worshipped him. The names of the Magi were Bithisarea, Melichior and Gathaspa.". Today we know them as Casper, Melchior and Balthasar.
    The art before 1500s usually shows all 3 wise men as being white:
  • But after 1500 the three kings start representing three continents (Europe, Asia, Africa) and 3 age groups. Melchior is the old white man, Balthasar an oriental middle aged man, and young black man is Casper
  • In the renaissance this was the standard portrayal of the three kings. If you look at any old postcard or old figurines from past centuries you will see the above pattern - three kings are an old white man, asian middle aged man and a young black man.
    These days they don't make art schools as they used to, so artists (at least those that do go to art schools) rarely learn this stuff. Hence you will not see this very often these days.
    Fifty years from now you will watch your grandkids playing with their Iphone 35 and you will wonder whether or not to bother them with this story.
    You might interest them enough to look at a nice picture though. Below is a gilded sarcophagus kept in the cathedral in Cologne, Germany where the bones of the holy three kings are believed to be residing today. Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa brought them there from Italy back in 1161.
  • Andrea Mantegna Adoration of the Magi.(ca. 1495-1505)
    J. Paul Getty MuseumLos Angeles
  • Jan van Eyck - The Ghent Altarpiece - God Almighty (detail)
  • Sandro Botticelli - Madonna of the Pomegranate (Madonna della melagrana), ca. 1487 (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy) detail
  • The magi shrine

    1. 1. http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/sandamichaela-1281455-the-magi-shrine/
    2. 2. We know that the magi were wise men from "the East," most likely Persia, or modern- day Iran. This means the wise men traveled 800 to 900 miles to see the Christ child. Most likely, the magi knew of the writings of the prophet Daniel, who in time past had been the chief of the court seers in Persia.
    3. 3. Shrine of the Magi is the largest, most artistically significant, and, in terms of its content, most ambitious reliquary of the Middle Ages. The relics were brought to Cologne from Milan in 1164.
    4. 4. From about 1190 to 1220 a number of artisans worked on the shrine in the workshop of the goldsmith Nicholas of Verdun and in workshops in Cologne and along the river Meuse that continued his work
    5. 5. The gilded sarcophagus kept in the cathedral in Cologne, Germany where the bones of the holy three kings are believed to be residing today. Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa brought them there from Italy back in 1161.
    6. 6. Ornamentation on the shrine includes gold- and silver-embossed, fire-gilded figures, filigree panels set with precious and semi-precious stones, intaglios, and cameos, and columns, arches and profiles trimmed with enamels. The images depicted on the shrine include scenes from the history of salvation from the dawning of time to the Last Judgment.
    7. 7. Although the shrine was shortened by one axis after being hidden from French revolutionary troops in 1794, it was largely restored to its original shape during the most recent period of restoration, which lasted from 1961 to 1973. Cameo with Medusa Head, 1st Cent. after Christ
    8. 8. Apostle Bartholomew Apostle Juda Thaddeus
    9. 9. Adoration of the Magi
    10. 10. Adoration of the Magi
    11. 11. Cameo with Head of Ruler, 2nd Cent. before Christ Baptism of Christ
    12. 12. Shrine of the Three Holy Kings, David Side
    13. 13. Shrine of the Three Holy Kings, Solomon Side
    14. 14. Nero Cameo, 1st C. after Christ Head of a Ruler, 1st Cent. after Christ
    15. 15. Lion Heads under the Ridge Ornament
    16. 16. Gem with Dancer, 1st Cent. before Christ. Shrine of The Three Kings Nicholas of Verdun c. 1190
    17. 17. Hunting Frieze, Battle of Riders
    18. 18. Hunting Frieze, Battle with Lion
    19. 19. Hunting Frieze, Boar Hunt
    20. 20. Venus Gem, 1st Century before Christ
    21. 21. John, New Creation from Fritz Zehgruber, 1969 King David
    22. 22. Prophet Amos Prophet Habakkuk
    23. 23. Seraph Prophet Ioachim
    24. 24. The Three Kings with King Otto IV Last Judgement
    25. 25. The intention in the Middle Ages was that the shrine would be placed in the crossing. Today, however, it rises above the medieval high altar at the back of the inner choir, making this area the main focus of the Gothic cathedral, which was built as a stone reliquary for this precious shrine.
    26. 26. Detail from the Three Kings Screen, c 1332-1349
    27. 27. The coffin with the remains of the Three Holy Kings is brought to Constantinople. Saint Helena in front of the shrine; the shrine is transferred to Milan Detail from the Three Kings Screen, c 1332-1349
    28. 28. Sound: '12 o Clock', by Vangelis Pictures: Internet Copyright: All the images belong to their authors Presentation: Sanda Foi oreanuş www.slideshare.net/michaelasanda

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