The Solemnity of the "Epiphany of the Lord" (birth, adoration of the Magi, Baptism in the Jordan, wedding at Cana), which originated in Alexandria, spread increasingly in the liturgy of the entire Church. It has been celebrated on 6 January since the fifth century. Only in the Roman liturgy under Pope St. Leo the Great (440-461) did it become a specific feast: the "Adoration of the Magi".
The definition of the Magi as three, a holy number, partly because of the kind of gifts they offered, also dates to this period. At first, their number or names were not specified. The names Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar probably crept into the Western Tradition from an apocryphal Gospel written in Alexandria in about the sixth century.
One thing, however, is certain. It was interest in the Magi of Matthew's narrative that formed the basis of their subsequent popular veneration. The Evangelist's account of them offers few historical details: instead, it is theological in nature.
The Wise Men symbolized strangers, foreigners or pagans, hence, completely diverse people. Yet they received salvation, just like the People of Israel. Their search, discovery, worship and belief in Jesus filled them with "great joy". Obedient to a warning, they returned to their own country "by another way".
The homage that the first representatives of paganism, henceforth kings, paid to the King of kings enabled them to share in the divine Kingdom of Jesus Christ. In late antiquity and in the early Middle Ages, the field of art provided a particularly fertile terrain for this concept. -EWTN