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Reliquary theca with relics of the Three Magi (Three Kings or Three Wise Men)

18th-century oval silver glass-fronted reliquary theca decorated on the outside by filigree ornamentation and housing relics of Saint Mary Magdalene. The relics are affixed to a red silk background decorated with gilt paperolle and identified on manuscript cedulae labels as S. Balthassar Regis. M. / S. Melchior Regis. Mag. / S. Caspar Regis. M. (St. Balthazar King Magus, St. Melchior King Magus, St. Caspar King Magus). On the back, under a protective cap, the theca is secured with a perfectly preserved seal of red Spanish wax bearing an imprint of a coat of arms of an unidentified Catholic bishop. 

The Three Magi, also referred to as the (Three) Wise Men or (Three) Kings, were – in the Gospel of Matthew and Christian tradition – distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They are regular figures in traditional accounts of the nativity celebrations of Christmas and are an important part of Christian tradition.  The New Testament does not give the names of the Magi. However, In the Western Christian church, they have all been regarded as saints and are commonly known as: Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar. The tradition asserts that the biblical Magi "were martyred for the faith and that their bodies were first venerated at Constantinople; thence they were transferred to Milan in 344. It is certain that when Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor imposed his authority on Milan, the relics there were transferred to Cologne Cathedral, housed in the Shrine of the Three Kings, and are venerated there today. The Milanese treated the fragments of masonry from their now-empty tomb as secondary relics and these were widely distributed around the region, including southern France, accounting for the frequency with which the Magi appear on chasse reliquaries in Limoges enamel. The visit of the Magi is commemorated in most Western Christian churches by the observance of Epiphany, 6 January, which also serves as the feast of the three as saints. The Eastern Orthodox celebrate the visit of the Magi on 25 December. 

Additional Info

  • ID#: 35-RSCRM-7
  • Size: 93 x 65 mm
  • Age: ca. 18th century
  • Origin: Italy
  • Materials: silver
  • Price: SOLD!
  • Silver
  • Orthodox Cross