Adoration of the Magi, by Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1488
The feast of manifestation, or Epiphany, is traditionally celebrated the 12th day after Christmas, January 6th. In the dioceses of the United States this feast has been moved to the Sunday between January 2 and January 8.
Epiphany is Greek for “to manifest” or “to show “. The Feast of the Epiphany marks the first manifestation of the birth of Christ to the Gentiles. The Three Kings – Melchor, Gaspar, and Balthazar — had come from the East in search of the Christ child.
The Three Kings, also known as the Magi or the Wise Men, brought with them gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh – gold signifying that Jesus is King; frankincense, the symbol of prayer, signifying that Jesus is the Son of God, and myrrh, which is used to anoint the dead, signifying that Jesus would die for the salvation of all.
“If the Magi had come in search of an earthly King, they would have been disconcerted at finding that they had taken the trouble to come such a long way for nothing. Consequently they would have neither adored nor offered gifts. But since they sought a heavenly King, though they found in Him no signs of royal pre-eminence, yet, content with the testimony of the star alone, they adored: for they saw a man, and they acknowledged a God.”