Three Wise Men

January 6th marked the festivity of the Epiphany or the story of the three wise men visiting the baby Jesus, but who were these men? How did anyone know they were wise? I knew from the Bible that they came from the East, yet in those days it could have been the orient, Persia, or east Africa. After doing some research, I learned that the magi were a group of Persian priests of the Zarathustra religion that made the pilgrimage. Marco Polo had my same curiosity and he wrote about it in his travels. Balthasar, Melchior, and Caspar set out from Saveh, a city located in Persia, on their journey to see the infant king. These same priests  are  buried in that same city in three large, beautiful sepulchers surrounded by a building with a domed roof.

According to Marco Polo’s travels, he found his answers in a town called Kala Atashparastan or Town of the Fire-worshippers. The inhabitants spoke of three kings of old that travelled afar to worship a new-born prophet. They offered him gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense. For they said: If he takes the gold, he is an earthly king; if he takes the myrrh, he is a healer: and if he takes the frankincense, he is a god. The Christ child appeared to each priest in the form of themselves in age and appearance. They were astounded at this and each told the other what he had seen. Then they all went together before Christ and found him in his true form of thirteen days. The child accepted all their gifts, then handed them a closed casket. The men set out on their return to their country. After they had ridden for some days, the priests stopped and opened the casket. They found a stone inside. The three kings, not understanding why the Christ child had given them a stone, threw the stone into a well. No sooner had the stone fallen in, then a great fire appeared. When they saw this they fell to their knees and repented. The men saw the significance of this miracle and immediately took some of the fire and carried it to their own country. The priests placed the fire in the church. They kept it burning and worshiped it like a god. This is how the people of this country Kala Atashparastan came about as fire worshipers. All this had been related to Marco Polo and now to you.

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