Tri Miracula; The Three miracles of the Magi

We’re a bit off from the Day of Epiphany; being January 6 of every year.  But I came upon this while studying about rituals in Gaul (Ancient France and surrounding areas).  I’m trying to make some connection between the adoration of Black Sara (more later) in Southern France, the legendary De Baux family and the Magus Balthazar.

Up through Italy and into France, the adoration of the Magi are stronger than any other place in Christendom.  From the Medici in Florence, Italy to the Baux in Provence, France and beyond, there is a considerable reverence for the three Magi.  And the Day of Epiphany is THE day to honor them.

It is the themes that come along with this adoration, something called the Tria Miracula, that gives us the main themes for our messages at this festival.

 

  1. The Epiphany of the Star of Bethlehem to the Magi that brought these gentiles from the outside of the plan of God to inclusion
  2. The Epiphany of the Father to all at the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist announcing to the world that this was truly the Son of God.
  3. The Epiphany of the Son as the Messaih via the first miracle (the turning the water to wine at the wedding of Cana) showing the Disciples he was the one who they had waited on for so long.

 

Some other versions substitute the Wedding at Cana miracle with the Transfiguration. This made a great deal more sense being the revealing of Jesus, once more, as the Son of God.  But the three listed are adhered to by the main body of followers.

Descendants of Balthazar in Southern France?

To this day, in the south of France along the cost of the Mediterranean Sea, there stands to this day a town called simply Les Baux-de-Provence of the Provence province.  Along with this town comes a legacy of the Baux family who ruled the region as feudal lords for some time.  What interests us is the fact that this family swore their lineage from none other than the Ethiopian Magus, Balthazar, of the nativity.

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Now, to be honest, at this time, it was popular to claim lineage from the Magi or other ancient saints.  But the Baux family took it all the way by making their heraldic crest the 16 point sun.  Now, in the past, we have discussed the connection between the Magi and the 8 point star.  It was no less typical for them to use the 16 point star as well.  Although the claim was denied by the pope of the time, one must understand that the Baux were Protestant and fought for the cause along side all of Orange.  So, the pope may have been a little prejudice.

The first historical record of the Baux family was from 810 CE and one named Gossalin who marred into the court of Orange in the south of France and ruled some seventy nine villages along the Rhone river from Marsielle to nearly Lyon.  They were recorded to be a barbaric people with ‘wild mountain blood in their veins’.  And build castles in the mountains they did, barricading themselves on the nearly unapproachable peaks of the coast.

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The Baux were also a center for Troubadours and ruled in the court of Orange; named after the oranges that actually came from India.  Hmmm.

The Princes of Orange were claimed from the first Baux to hold the title, Bertrand I of Baux (1171-1181) and continued so through 1340.

Were they truly the descendants of Balthazar, the magus?  No one can be sure, but the evidence is leaning that way.

(I’m still researching this: Check out the articles below)

http://mistralwriter.blogspot.com/2009/10/les-baux-de-provence.html

http://git.net/ml/culture.templar.rosemont/2007-06/msg00006.html

http://www.horizon-provence.com/baux-de-provence/history.htm

Getting aHEAD in the legends of John the Baptist

John the Baptist is one of the most enigmatic characters of the New Testament.  His prophetic birth, his mysterious childhood and his outrageous lifestyle draws attention and speculation from all serious Biblical readers.   But, one of the most insane legends surrounding John is what became of his head.  Yes, his HEAD.

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For those of you who do NOT know the story, John made a habit of pointing out the sins of Israels royalty at the time: the Family of Herod.  He especially made himself a pest to Herod Antipas concerning his marriage to his brother’s former wife.   This being an intolerable breaking of Biblical moral code, John was not afraid to call a sinner a sinner no matter how powerful they were.

Herod, due to his fascination of John, protected him as long as he could.  But he knew, sooner or later, he would have to imprison him.  And he did.  In an amazing act of trickery, Herod’s stepdaughter gained Herod’s approval through, no doubt, provocative dance and offered anything up to half his kingdom.  When the girl ask mother dear what she should ask for.  Her mother told her to ask for John, the Baptists head.  Herod, appalled, gave in and allowed it.

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But what happened to John’s head afterwards?

Not a question that usually comes up in Sunday School and nothing in the Bible gives testimony to any such thing.  But legends are rampant in the early church.  And one legend answers the question (sort of) and stands by it even to this day.

SIDE NOTE: Many Christians of that day believed that the beheading of John the Baptist led to the fall of Herod since not long after that the father of Herod Anipas’ first wife, one King Aretas of the Nabateans, invaded and devestated him (with the help of a betrayal from his brother Philip whom he stole his second wife from.  Finally, his nephew too Philips place and had Herod exiled by claiming treason to Rome.

During the invasion of King Aretas,  Herod Antipas was said to have sent the head of John to the angry King as a warning.  This didn’t stop the invasion and the resulting embarrassing defeat.

Later, not sure how much later, the head was brought to Damascus.  There was a strong Christian church there and John the Baptist was respected greatly.  The head was placed in an ‘ornate gilded sepulcher’ and the church became known as the CATHEDRAL OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST.

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The Cathedral was built on the site of an old pagan temple and fell to the Muslims in 634 AD.  According to one writer, the head of John was asserted to still be there even to this day.

Amadiya: another home of the Biblical Magi?

In northern Iraq just southeast of Mosel, stands the flat mountain city of Amadiya.  Once again, there are legends that place the ‘Three Wisemen’ here at the time of the birth of Christ.

U.S. Soldiers Take Part in Kurdish Labor Day CelebrationIn ancient times, the city was known as Amedi and fell under all the great empires of the region: the Achaemenids, the Seleucids, the Assyrians, the Romans, the Parthians and the Sassanids.

From time immortal, the region was home to Magi as most of what is now Iraq and Iran was.  But, as stated before, this was home to not just any Magi but THE Magi of the Biblical infancy narrative.  For eons, this city was only accessible by a stairway cut into the cliff rocks.  This made it a strategic place for keeping watch over any kingdom.  Here you can find ruins of ancient Assyria, as well as a historical mosque and church.

The Coin, the Kingdom and the Cross

If asked what country first minted coinage with the image of the Christian cross on it, most would answer Rome or some place in Europe.  Other more scholarly people would say Antioch or the holy lands.  But, the fact is, the first coin to bear the image of the Cross was minted in Ethiopia!

As stated before, the country of Ethiopia was ruled by a long line of kings who claimed to be descended from the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon.  This Solomonic dynasty reigned off and on for most of antiquity.  Once such King, Bozan, was said to be the Balthazar of the Nativity.

Did the traditional Magi, Gaspar, have connections to northern Iran?

We have already discussed the three traditional names of the Magi (Melchior, Balthazar and Gaspar) and many of the connections.  Gaspar, especially, has strong connections to India and the Gondaphares dynasty.  This also lines up with the Gospel of Saint Thomas who also has strong connections in India due to his missionary journeys there.  In fact, to this day there is a strain of Christians there who call themselves Saint Thomas Christians.

But, in digging through the list of Magi in the recently released document, REVELATION OF THE MAGI, I found an interesting connection again possibly to the Kings named Gondaphares, India and, therefore, Gaspar.

I have found that most of the King names whose sons make up the twelve magi who visited the Christ child (So far at least) have coincided with the time of the early Sassanid rulers and their conquests of the Parthian kings.  Artaban, who was killed by Ardashir in 224 CE, and Santatruq, who was destroyed with his city, HATRA, in 240 CE are both mentioned in the list along with Merian and Khosrov who were kings in Iberia and Armenia.  Among these men is a king named Gudaphar which is, at least, connected to the Gondaphares line.

The Magi Princely son is named Austazp which is rendered Gusnasp by Theodorus bar Koni.  Amazingly enough, there is a King by that name and he and is people have connections to the Gondapharian dynasty.  But he didn’t reign in India.

The Kushan Empire had done major damage to the kingdom Gondaphares left his descendants about 79 AD.  Northern India had been taken from his current successor, Pacores, and most of what was left of that empire was driven deeper south.  However, there were holding further north that stayed intact but were separated from their southern brothers.

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Mazandaran is the mountainous region north of Tehran and the ancient city of Ray!

Gusnasp reigned in the land called Mazandaran which included parts of the kingdoms of Tabaristan and Padashkhwargar.  It was from these lands that Artaban V drew troops to meet Ardashir on the day he fell.  The people of Mazandaran were a rugged, independent people and are know to have held off the Islamic invasion longer than most of their neighbors.  They were known to be available and able warriors and were called upon almost like mercenaries.  After the failure of Artaban V to stop the agression of Ardashir, Gusnasp was recorded via a letter to the Sassanian King weighing his options.

In the end, Gusnasp and his people agreed to turn on the Parthians and become a Sassanian vassal state, therefore keeping control of their lands and staving off an obviously tragic war.

 

The first Christian Church in…INDIA?

On the east coast of India near Piravom, there stands a church called St. Mary’s Jacobite Syrian Cathedral.  But it also has gone by another name:  Rajakkalude Pally (“Holy Magi church”)

This obviously got my attention.  Being so far from the area where Christianity spread first (far from places like Antioch and Ephesus and the sort), it struck me odd when I heard it claimed, by legend, to be the first Christian church in the world!

This church is a part of the Malankara tradition which originated when the Saint Thomas Christians had their first contact with Portuguese Catholic missionaries.  The Saint Thomas Christians had been worshiping, untouched by the power of Rome, for centuries.  But they practiced things the Pope called blasphemy, like married clergy.  The persecution that spawned from that sent many looking for a place to worship as they were taught. This tradition resisted the Catholic pressure and sided with Syric tradition.

They still practice a Holy Mass daily officiated by three clergy (“Vishudha Moonninmel Kurbana”) and there is a mention in the Wiki page of an ‘astrological competence’ there.  All of this sounds oddly familiar, right?  One of the major exports of Piravom was spices for many years.

It is seen in the History of St. Thomas (Page. 15; Suriyani Sabha, Kaniyanparambil Kurian Corepiscopa) that the ‘Megusans’(MAGI), who made offerings to Infant Jesus had been sanctified as Christians in India by St. Thomas, when St. Thomas was in missionary works in Kerala. -Wikipedia