Wise Men of the East, Magi, or Three Kings, men who came from the East to adore the newborn Jesus. Mat. 2. They were the first to tell Herod of the birth. A star (the Star of Bethlehem) had been a sign for them. Christian tradition has elaborated the biblical account; it has set their number as three, perhaps from their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; it has called them kings, perhaps from Ps. 72.10,11 and Isa. 49.7,23 considered as prophecies; and it has given them names, Caspar or Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They are called sometimes the Three Kings of Cologne because there is a great shrine to them in the cathedral at Cologne. The feast of the Epiphany commemorates their visit. In art the visit is called the Adoration of the Magi.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Biblical Proper Names: Biographies