A few years ago I took a vacation to Germany and visited the Cathedral of Cologne. A very impressive cathedral and one that I’ve been told an ancestor of mine (along with thousands of others) worked on. If you ever visit you will also see the Shrine of the Three Kings where the remains of the kings who visited Jesus that we commemorate in the feast of the Epiphany are kept. How did they get to Germany? The following it a summary of the most authoritative description I could find. (By John Of Hildesheim – Modernized By H. S. Morris – http://commonplacebook.com/culture/the_three_kings/)
Part I – The Star – Now, when the Children of Israel were gone out of Egypt, and had won and made subject to them Jerusalem and all the land lying about, there was in the Kingdom of Ind a tall hill called the Hill of Vaws, or the Hill of Victory. On this hill were stationed sentinels of Ind, who watched day and night against the Children of Israel, and afterward against the Romans. And if an enemy approached, the keepers of the Hill of Vaws made a great fire to warn the inhabitants of the land so that the men might make ready to defend themselves.
Now in the time when Balaam prophesied of the Star that should betoken the birth of Christ, all the great lords and the people of Ind and in the East desired greatly to see this Star of which he spake; and they gave gifts to the keepers of the Hill of Vaws, and bade them, if they saw by night or by day any star in the air, that had not been seen aforetime, that they, the keepers, should send anon word to the people of Ind.
Part II – The Child – The part we know when they visit and honor Jesus
Part III – How they came to Cologne
Now, after many years, a little before the feast of Christmas, there appeared a wonderful Star above the cities where these three kings dwelt, and they knew thereby that their time was come when they should pass from earth. Then with one consent they built, at the Hill of Vaws, a fair and large tomb, and there the three Holy Kings, Melchior, Balthazar, and Jasper died, and were buried in the same tomb
by their sorrowing people.
Now after much time had passed away, Queen Helen, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, began to think greatly of the bodies of these three kings, and she arrayed herself, and, accompanied by many attendants, went into the Land of Ind.
And you shall understand that after she had found the bodies of Melchior, Balthazar, and Jasper, Queen Helen put them into one chest and ornamented it with great riches, and she brought them into Constantinople, with joy and reverence, and laid them in a church that is called Saint Sophia; and this church the Emperor Constantine did make, — he alone, with a little child, set up all the marble pillars thereof.
Now, after the death of the Emperor Constantine a persecution against the Christian faith arose, and in this persecution the bodies of the three worshipful kings were set at naught. Then came the Emperor Mauricius of Rome, and, through his counsel, the bodies of these three kings were carried to Italy, and there they were laid in a fair church in the city of Milan.
Then afterward, in the process of time, the city of Milan rebelled against the Emperor Frederick the First, and he, being sore beset, sent to Rainald, Archbishop of Cologne, asking for help.
This Archbishop with his army did take the city of Milan, and delivered it to the Emperor. And for this service did the Emperor grant, at the Archbishop’s great entreaty, that he should carry forth to Cologne the bodies of the three blessed kings.
Then the Archbishop, with great solemnity and in procession, did carry forth from the city of Milan the bodies of the three kings, and brought them unto Cologne and there placed them in the fair church of Saint Peter. And all the people of the country roundabout, with all the reverence they might, received these relics, and there in the city of Cologne they are kept and beholden of all manner of nations unto this day.
Thus endeth the legend of these three blessed kings, — Melchior, Balthazar, and Jasper.
Just another way the Scriptures are a part of our lives today.
Have a great Epiphany and Peace,