magi

(Greek: magos)

Proper name applied to members of the priestly caste of the Medes, used with specific reference to the wise men from the East who brought gifts to Jesus in Bethlehem. The appearance of a miraculous star caused them to leave the East in search of the king of whuse birth the star was a sign. At the court of Herod the Great in Jerusalem they learned that Bethlehem was to be the place of birth of the expected Messias. The star guided them to the house of the Holy Family in Bethlehem where they offered to the Child Jesus the choicest of Arabian gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. An angel warned them in sleep of Herod's designs upon the Child, so they returned by another route to their country. The Gospel omits to mention the country, the number, and the names of the Magi. The Western Church reputes them to have been three Persians, and a 7th-century tradition names them Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar.

New Catholic Dictionary

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