What is Epiphany? What does it mean?
Today I would like to talk about a festival that is extremely felt in the Christian world, but above all, to tell how it is normally celebrated in Milan. The festival in question is that of the Epiphany. The name derives from ancient Greek and means “manifestation,” and it’s celebrated on January 6. It commemorates the moment of the first manifestation of Jesus Christ to the world, represented by the Magi Kings.
Tradition says that a few days after the birth of Jesus, three astronomer kings from three different continents visited him. The three kings called Magi found Jesus following a star and brought him gifts worthy of a king: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The Magi could predict too. Their gifts were symbolically suggesting what would happen to Jesus. The gold means that he would have been considered a king, the frankincense that was commonly used to purify, alludes to his pure soul. Myrrh, a perfumed resin used as anointing oil to prepare the dead before the burial, alludes to the crucifixion of Jesus.
The three Magi, then returning to their kingdoms, spread the news of the birth of Jesus. This is why this event is remembered in the name of Epiphany.
What happens in Milan every 6th January?
In Milan on Epiphany day, takes place a historical procession. It’s an old tradition repeated every year since 1336. The procession runs from the Cathedral to the S. Eustorgio basilica. It is led by three volunteers, wearing historical costumes to feature the Magi Kings. There is a good reason why the S. Eustorgio basilica is the procession’s destination. This beautiful ancient building, which is a must to include when touring Milan, houses relics of the Magi Kings.
The story of the relics is both fascinating and articulated. They were brought to Milan in the 4th century thanks to bishop Eustorgio, founder of the basilica. In 1262, the relics were stolen by Frederick Red-beard and housed in the Cathedral of Cologne, Germany, for a long time. At the beginning of the twentieth century, some parts of them were returned to Milan.
Unfortunately, due to the health emergency that the world is experiencing, the procession will not take place this year. We can admire photos of the one arranged in 2020. Well, I can’t wait to welcome you to Milan and to show you the S. Eustorgio basilica.
thank you to Vlada Novikova Nava Ilaria Fiore for the photos