Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Whatever Happened To The Gifts Of The Magi?

“The gifts that the magi brought to the Infant Christ were carefully preserved by the Mother of God. Before her blessed Dormition, she gave them to the Jerusalem Church. They were located there until the year 400. Later, the Byzantine Emperor Arcardius translated them to Constantinople and placed them in the Hagia Sophia church. In 1453, Constantinople fell. In 1470 the daughter of the Serbian ruler George Brankovich, Maria (Maro), who was the widow of the Turkish sultan Murat (Murada) II (1404–1451), gave the Gifts of the Magi to the Monastery of St. Paul, which was Serbian until 1744. Despite the fact that she was the wife of a sultan she did not accept Islam and remained a Christian until the end of her life. On the place were Maria knelt a cross was placed called the Queen’s. In the chapel that stands next to it is a depiction of the monks’s meeting of this great relic. There is a tradition that the pious Maria wanted to bring the Gifts of the Magi into the monastery herself but at the its walls she was stopped by a heavenly voice as once was the Empress Placidia at Vatopedi, reminding her that the Athonite rule forbids women from entering the monastery.

The Gifts of the Magi are reverently preserved in the monastery in small reliquaries: twenty-eight small rectangular gold wafers, a tetragon and a polygon, decorated with elegant filigree ornaments. This is the gold that the magi brought the God-Child as to the King. Besides this there are around seventy small olive-sized balls of incense and myrrh. These relics are very fragrant. Demoniacs have been healed by them.”

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