Join our Lenten Campaign 2024.
In addition to the Feast of the Epiphany celebrated in January, when we read of the arrival of the Magi (traditionally called the Three Kings or Three Wise Men) to worship the Child Jesus, the German city of Cologne celebrates another feast of the Three Kings — the anniversary of the arrival of the Magi’s relics in the city. This feast has been celebrated in Cologne every July 23 for more than 900 years.
The relics traditionally identified as those of the Magi were taken from Milan to Cologne by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I “Barbarossa,” who in turn gave them to the archbishop of the city, Reinaldo de Dassel, in 1164. Since then, the relics have attracted a constant flow of pilgrims to the city.
The reliquary of the Three Kings was designed by the famous medieval goldsmith Nicolas de Verdun, who began to work on the project in 1180. It is decorated with several gold sculptures representing the prophets and apostles, as well as scenes from the life of Christ. The sanctuary was completed around 1225.
In 1199, King Otto gave this church three gold crowns, symbolizing the three Magi. Due to the importance of the sanctuary and the cathedral for the later development of the city, these three crowns are included in the city’s coat of arms.