The story of the Magi brings memories of childhood. It fills us with awe as we spend a moment contemplating the journey the Magi’s or Three Kings traveled to pay homage to the new King. There is not much we know if the journey or exactly who the 3 Magi’s, Wiseman, and or Kings actually were. We only know that they heard the call to go and they responded. I often contemplate my own life and pray that I also am able to respond in the way the 3 Kings answered. I hope that I too can daily move to the response of Christ and to answer the call. In a world filled with noise hopefully I can move beyond and go and encounter the King.
I had a chance while cruising the Rhine on Viking to visit Cologne Germany. One of the tours was the Cathedral where I experienced an opportunity to visit the Shrine of the 3 Kings The Grand Reliquary of the Magi. The Shrine contains the bones of 3 man different ages. They are told to be the 3 Wiseman of the bible. The story of the Magi is revisited every Christmas throughout the world. So during a Christmas River Cruise who wouldn’t want to visit the 3 Kings?
Historic records has the bones discovered and brought back by Constantine’s mother Helena like many other of the relics acquired during that time period. The history is that she brought them to Constantinople. Helena often traveled to various Holy sites to procure the relics. Similar to other Relics throughout history these were moved from there original resisting place and brought to Constantinople by Helena. Taking great care Helena placed them in the Reliquary the bones of the 3 Kings are found in today. In the 6th century the Reliquary was removed from Hagia Sophia and sent to Milan and remained there until the 12th century.
During this period of time the Reliquary as moved to Cologne after a the rebellion of Milan against the Roman Empire. The Empire appealed the Arch Bishop of Cologne and was assisted with winning back Milan and the Emperor so grateful transferred the Reliquary to Cologne in gratitude.
Where it remains today.
For this trip I had not planned a pilgrimage. To be presented with an opportunity for a moment of prayer in a Holy place is always looked as a gift for me. I took the moment filled with awe at the beauty of the Cathedral itself. I always remain in awe to view the art that seems to transcend time and place. There is always a moment I come to when I reflect how many countless pilgrims have made the journey before me.
I often touch on the lost art of the pilgrimage in my writings because I feel that in our busyness we have often overlooked it’s beauty. In our attempt to see we often lose the experience. To step into a Cathedral and be presented with the opportunity to pray in the presence of the bones of what we believe to be the 3 Kings who centuries before had also made their own journey. A journey towards a King born in a stable who would save the world.
As I gazed upon the beauty of the Reliquary I prayed and brought my intentions to our Lord. It seems that as I make my pilgrimages I always seem to come back to a feeling of Hope, and Gratefulness. I am often filled with a sense of wonder and a childlike feeling of being presented with a gift. Yet I also bring my own gifts to Jesus when I make a pilgrimage. I bring him my prayers, my thoughts, my own intentions and those of others who travel with me in prayer. I bring my obedience to stop and take a moment to try and listen to what he is asking of me for my life.
I can’t help but view my experiences in making a pilgrimage in the light of loss. I am not sure that without the experience of losing my child that I would feel such hope. It is only through my loss that I understand what others may never touch or see. That with a loss of that magnitude the one thing you are presented with as a Catholic is HOPE. The HOPE in the promises of Christ.