Epiphany Prayers

The word epiphany comes from the Greek word epiphaneia, meaning “manifestation”. It refers to the feast on 6 January celebrating the visit of the three wise men from the east who followed a star to come to Jerusalem and Bethlehem to adore the Christ Child, recounted in St. Matthew’s Gospel. The feast is also known as 'The Epiphany of Our Lord' and 'Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles'.

The Adoration of the Magi, Giovanni di Paolo, c. 1460

The Adoration of the Magi, Giovanni di Paolo, c. 1460

The Gospel of St. Mathew, Chapter 2, 1-12:

[1] When Jesus therefore was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of king Herod, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.

Cum ergo natus esset Jesus in Bethlehem Juda in diebus Herodis regis, ecce magi ab oriente venerunt Jerosolymam,

[2] Saying, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to adore him.
dicentes : Ubi est qui natus est rex Judaeorum? vidimus enim stellam ejus in oriente, et venimus adorare eum.

[3] And king Herod hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Audiens autem Herodes rex, turbatus est, et omnis Jerosolyma cum illo.

[4] And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born.
Et congregans omnes principes sacerdotum, et scribas populi, sciscitabatur ab eis ubi Christus nasceretur.

[5] But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda. For so it is written by the prophet:
At illi dixerunt : In Bethlehem Judae : sic enim scriptum est per prophetam:

[6] And thou Bethlehem the land of Juda art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the captain that shall rule my people Israel.
Et tu Bethlehem terra Juda, nequaquam minima es in principibus Juda : ex te enim exiet dux, qui regat populum meum Israel.

[7] Then Herod, privately calling the wise men, learned diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them;
Tunc Herodes clam vocatis magis diligenter didicit ab eis tempus stellae, quae apparuit eis:

[8] And sending them into Bethlehem, said: Go and diligently inquire after the child, and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I also may come to adore him.
et mittens illos in Bethlehem, dixit : Ite, et interrogate diligenter de puero : et cum inveneritis, renuntiate mihi, ut et ego veniens adorem eum.

[9] Who having heard the king, went their way; and behold the star which they had seen in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was.
Qui cum audissent regem, abierunt, et ecce stella, quam viderant in oriente, antecedebat eos, usque dum veniens staret supra, ubi erat puer.

[10] And seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
Videntes autem stellam gavisi sunt gaudio magno valde.

[11] And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him; and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Et intrantes domum, invenerunt puerum cum Maria matre ejus, et procidentes adoraverunt eum : et apertis thesauris suis obtulerunt ei munera, aurum, thus, et myrrham.

[12] And having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their country.
Et responso accepto in somnis ne redirent ad Herodem, per aliam viam reversi sunt in regionem suam.

Adoration of the Magi, Bartoleme Esteban Murillo, c. 1655-1660

O Jesus Christ our King, whose sign to the Wise Men was a bright shining star; Enlighten us ever by Thy Grace, and fill us with all wisdom and spiritual understanding; Grant this of thy goodness, O our Lord, whose kingdom and dominion endure throughout all ages. Amen.

(Mozarabic Collect for the Epiphany)

Adoration of the Magi, Bartoleme Esteban Murillo, c. 1655-1660

The Adoration of the Magi, Anonymous, c. 1500

The Adoration of the Magi, Anonymous, c. 1500

Give me, therefore, I pray Thee, this gold, this incense, and this myrrh. Give me the gold of Thy holy love; give me the spirit of holy prayer, give me the desire and strength to mortify myself in everything that displeases Thee. I am resolved to obey Thee and to love Thee; but Thou knowest my weakness, oh, give me the grace to be faithful to Thee!

— St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787)

[For by gold the power of a king is signified, by frankincense the honor of God, by myrrh the burial of the body; and accordingly they offer Him gold as King, frankincense as God, myrrh as Man.

— St John Chrysostom (c.349-407)

O God, Who on this day didst manifest Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles by the guidance of a star: graciously grant, that we, who know Thee now by faith, may be led even to contemplate the beauty of Thy Majesty. Through the same our Lord.

Deus, qui hodierna die Unigenitum gentibus stella duce revelasti: concede propitius; ut, qui jam te ex fide cognovimus, usque ad contemplandam speciem tuae celsitudinis perducamur. Per eumdem Domininum nostrum.

(Roman Missal, Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord, 6 January, Collect)

Adoration of the Magi, Rembrandt, 1634

Adoration of the Magi, Rembrandt, 1634

Adoration of the Magi (Detail), Michelangelo di Petro Membrini, c. 1489-1521

Adoration of the Magi (Detail), Michelangelo di Petro Membrini, c. 1489-1521

ALLELUIA, alleluia. We have seen His star in the East, and are come with gifts to adore the Lord. Alleluia.

ALLELUIA, alleluia. Vidimus stellam ejus in Oriente, et venimus cum muneribus adorare Dominum. Alleluia.

(Roman Missal, Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord, 6 January, Alleluia)

Journey of the Magi, James Tissot, c. 1894

Journey of the Magi, James Tissot, c. 1894

Epiphany Prayer

At Thy birth, O Jesus, a star of wondrous splendor shone forth in the Eastern skies, and led to Bethlehem the Magi, those envoys of far-distant, pagan peoples, even as the Angel, bathed in heavenly light, was summoning to Thy manger the shepherds, as representatives of the chosen people.

For the Gentiles as well as the Jews, must needs recognize in Thee, a poor and helpless Infant, the almighty King of Ages, the Saviour of mankind.

Neither sceptre nor diadem disclosed Thy kingly state; no sweet harmonies, no hosts of Angels mustering round Thy crib revealed Thy divine nature; but the star, shining above Thy wretched stable, pointed to the heavens, the earth, and the entire universe as Thine absolute possessions; even as the Magi, who at the inspiration of Thy grace, coming promptly from afar, caring naught for dangers, overcoming every difficulty, and embracing every sacrifice, reached Thy feet and kneeling down in reverence offered Thee their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Thirsting for God, they had gone eagerly in search of Thee, and Thou didst reveal Thyself to them in a wonderful manner, while still in Thy crib, filling them with ineffable joys and transforming them into the first messengers of Thy glories to the peoples of the Orient.

After the appearance of the star, which sufficed to render the Magi Thy ardent followers, with what marvels, O Jesus, didst Thou demonstrate Thy divinity! Yet what darkness still overshadows our poor minds! How reluctantly our wills give way to the loving impulses of Thy grace, even when they do not openly resist Thee!

Give us, therefore, O Jesus, the strength to reply ever promptly and generously to Thy call, and grant that the divine light of faith, which was enkindled by Thee within us while still in our cradles, may ever accompany us on the road of life, until, blessed at last in Heaven, we shall be able to fix our eyes upon Thee in the light of glory.

Altarpiece of the Epiphany, Joan Reixach, c. 1469

Altarpiece of the Epiphany, Joan Reixach, c. 1469

This Webpage first posted on The Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord, Thursday 6 January 2022.

Immaculate Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Immaculata Regina Pacis, ora pro nobis.