03. Early Europe & Colonial Americas, Art & Humanities, Christianity, Europe, Germany, Religion

Catholic Culture: Shrine of the Three Kings

Catholic Culture: Shrine of the Three Kings

I  love medieval saint relics, I find them incredibly beautiful, mysterious, and quite curious. Well Cologne has the distinction of containing the bones of the Three Kings who visited baby Jesus at the nativity.

***Disclaimer, although I am a practicing Catholic, I am also quite skeptical about saint relics that are supposed to be from the time of Christ mostly from the standpoint that there was a HUGE black market for bones of dead people during the Middle Ages. However, that in no way diminishes my love for the gorgeous containers they are in called reliquaries.

Moving on…

In the Cologne Cathedral there is the Shrine of the Three Kings (Dreikönigsschrein in German) that contains the “bones” of the Three Magi, Melchior, Balthazar, and Caspar (FYI these dudes are not named nor numbered in the Bible). These bones were brought to Cologne in 1164 by the Archbishop Rainald von Dassel. Our tour guide told us that the bones are taken out on the Epiphany (the day the magi visited baby Jesus); so you have to go on January 6th to see them!

The reliquary that hold their reminds is huge and chock-full of gems and gold! There are three large gems on the front that mark the location of their skulls 🙂 Also there is gold-covered relief on the four sides of the life of Christ, the Twelve apostles, and prophets (the usually).


Going along with the theme there is also an altar piece called The Adoration of the Magi by Stefan Lochner made in the 15th century.

Read more: Cologne: The city of the Rhine, the Cathedral, & the Three Kings




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *