There’s an interesting story in the Olive Press, one of Spain’s top English language newspapers, about the Pope and the Three Kings. According to the newspaper, a new book called Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives and written by Pope Benedict XV puts forward the idea that the Three Kings, the Three Magi or the Three Wise Men (whatever you grew up calling them) didn’t come from ‘the east’ at all but in fact came from an area in present day Spain — Andalucia.
According to legend, the Three Wise Men (that’s what I grew up knowing them as) were never said to come from a particular country. They are mentioned in the Bible by Matthew who simply says they came from the east. but for centuries it has been assumed they came from Persia or present day Iran, Babylonia or present day Iraq, or were Jews from Yemen. Now it looks like we could all be wrong.
In Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, after much historical research (and don’t forget, the Catholic Church has access to literally millions of ancient documents the rest of us will never see), the Pope writes the Three Wise Men came from the lost city and kingdom of Tartessos, which is thought to have been on the Iberian peninsula of what is now Andalucia. Like Atlantis, it is believed to have been lost beneath the waves but then possibly rebuilt as what is currently the city of Huelva.
Interestingly, Spain is one of a handful of countries that has far more traditions associated with the Three Kings (Reyes Magos) than do most other western societies. On January 5th every year, Spanish children are given gifts and there is a parade during which the Three Kings and their helpers throw sweets to the crowd. Looks like maybe the Spaniards knew something the rest of us didn’t know.
Whatever the outcome, the news of Andalucia’s connection to the Three Kings is sure to be met with joy from many Spaniards who, at heart, are still quite devoutly Catholic.
For the rest of the story about the Pope and the Three Kings, read the original article at the Olive Press. It’s fascinating.