Reliquary of the Three Magi

The Three Magi Shrine

sarcophagi of the three magi

Found in the choir of the Cologne cathedral, this shrine is made up of three sarcophaguses, two next to each other and one on top. All parts of the shrine are covered and create a basilica like shape ( The shrine itself is made out of wood but is plated with precious metals such as silver, gold and countless precious jewels ( Work was begun in 1180 by Nicholas Verdun.  Like mentioned previously, the shrine is decorated to look like a roman basilica. Architectural features are seen throughout the entire object, including window-like looking jewels, arches, roofs and trumeaus. The shrine isn’t just architectural, it also depicts several narrative scenes on its walls. On the east facing side, on the top sarcophagus is a depiction of Christ blessing the viewer. He is surrounded by two winged figures and two smaller figures in circles above him to his left and right. On the bottom two sarcophagus are two scenes, one of the Three Wise Men bringing offerings to Mary and her child in Bethlehem. The other scene to the right is Jesus being touched by a man while he gives him a blessing. On the sides of the sarcophaguses sit fourteen biblical characters, potentially saints, bishops, Jesus or the apostles.  On the west side of the sarcophagus is a depiction of the crucifixion. In general, I believe the overall message of the narrative scenes on the sarcophagus is the theme of giving. Jesus was given gifts by the Magi and since they he was always seen giving back in the narrative scenes on the object. The Cologne cathedral was updated in order to house not only this object but the pilgrims who would eventually follow the object and travel to come see it. The shrine to the Three Kings is debatably the Cologne Cathedrals most prized relic (Huppertz, Andreas).

Köln, Cologne Digital Medienproduktion GmbH,. "Der Hohe Dom zu Köln - Kathedrale und Weltkulturerbe - Gebaut für Gott und die Menschen"

Huppertz, Andreas. Der Kölner Dom Und Seine Kunstschätze: Offizieller Domführer Herausgegeben Im Auftrage Des Metropolitankapitels. Köln: Greven, 1959. Print. (pg. 90)

Reliquary of the Three Magi