Who Were the Three Kings? (Details from Catholic Mystics)

saints & mystics Jan 03, 2024
Who Were the Three Kings

Curious to know more about the three magi who visited Jesus after his birth? Clues from credible private revelation help to paint a clearer picture. In this post, we'll share detailed descriptions of the three kings from Catholic mystics.

This article draws from two German mystics, both of whom received detailed visions of the three kings, their journey to Bethlehem, and the star which guided them. Although some of the details conflict (such as which king was the wealthiest of the three), their accounts are remarkably similar (for instance, their description of Balthazar's ruddy lips).

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824)

Our first mystic, Anna Katharina Emmerick, was gifted with ecstasies and visions from her infancy. She received the Crown of Thorns, the Stigmata, and lived off the Eucharist alone for 12 years. Her remarkable visions and prophecies of future events have proven accurate over time, and her detailed descriptions of locations even led a group of priests to discover the house of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Servant of God Therese Neumann (1898-1962)

Our second mystic, Therese Neumann, received three miraculous healings through the intercession of St. Therese of Lisieux. During her ecstasies, she was recorded on film and audio speaking in foreign languages such as Greek and Aramaic. Like Emmerich, she too was a recipient of the Stigmata, the Crown of Thorns, as well as wounds from the Scourging. She lived off the Eucharist alone for over 35 years.

What follows is a summary of the visions of the aforementioned mystics regarding the identities of the three kings or "magi." Although the Bible does not state their names or their number, we will refer to the kings according to their traditional names of Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, attributed to a Greek manuscript from 500 AD, translated into Latin. It is important to note that the trio have been canonized as saints by the Catholic Church, therefore we can rest assured that it is not merely a pious belief but an actual fact that there were three wise men.

Visions of the Three Kings from Emmerich and Neumann

Visions of Therese Neumann tell that the three kings—Balthasar from Nubia, Melchior from Arabia, and Kaspar from Media—were rulers well-versed in astrology. In their lands, particularly in Media, the study of stars thrived, often practiced in tall, solitary towers erected specifically for observing celestial movements. Each ruler had their own astrologers, referred to as "magi."

Their proficiency in this field led to the independent sightings of an extraordinary star. Recognizing its significance based on the prophecy of a rising star from Jacob, they exchanged messages. The kings eventually converged in Media and set out together, embarking on a challenging journey, following the intermittent guidance of the elusive star.

At times, the star vanished for days or even months (they could not see any stars on overcast days, including the special star), making their journey uncertain and arduous. Their faith in the ancient prophecy, however, kept them steadfast, despite the difficulties they faced along the way.

By combining Neumann and Emmerich's visions together, we arrive at the following descriptions of the three kings:

1. Caspar

Called: "Theokeno"

Baptismal Name: "Leo" (baptized by St. Thomas)

Now known as Caspar, meaning: "He is won by love," or "He goes with love"

Hailed from: Media (occupying an area spanning present day northwestern Iran and southeastern Turkey), a land rich in resin, incense and fruit.

Appearance: In his mid-forties with a face of a beautiful yellowish color.

Accompanied by: Approx. twenty servants, forty soldiers, and four scholars with two servants each.

Gift for Jesus: Neither of our two mystics said explicitly, however St. Bede attributes to him the gift of frankincense.

Death: According to a Medieval saints calendar printed in Cologne, Caspar died on January 11th, 55 AD, at the age of 109. His remains are currently buried in the Shrine of the Three Kings in Cologne Cathedral.

Feast Day: January 11th and January 6th

2. Melchior

Called: "Mensor"

Baptismal Name: "Leander" (baptized by St. Thomas)

Now known as Melchior, meaning: "He is so coaxing, so insinuating, he uses so much address, he approaches one so gently," or "He wanders about, he approaches gently and with ingratiating manners"

Hailed from: Arabia (his city sounded to Emmerich something like "Acajaja", was surrounded by a river, and appeared to be built on an island), a land rich in grain and spices.

Appearance: In his mid-fifties (the eldest of the three) with a brown face. He was a Chaldean. The Venerable Bede described him as being "an old man, with white hair and a long beard."

Accompanied by: Approx. forty servants, fifty soldiers, five scholars, with two servants each, and two wives.

Gift for Jesus: Neither of our two mystics said explicitly, however St. Bede attributes to him the gift of gold.

Death: According to a Medieval saints calendar printed in Cologne, Melchior died on January 1st, 55 AD, at the age of 116. His remains are currently buried in the Shrine of the Three Kings in Cologne Cathedral.

Feast Day: January 1st and January 6th

3. Balthasar

Called: "Seir" or "Sair"

Baptismal Name: Although he died before it was possible for him to be baptized, he received the baptism of desire.

Now known as Balthasar, meaning: "With his whole will, he accomplishes the will of God," or "He makes rapid decisions, he quickly directs his will to the will of God"

Hailed from: Nubia (in Africa's current Sudan area), a land rich in gold.

Appearance: In his early forties (the youngest of the three), large and strong, dark brown skin, curly black hair of medium length, and a full black beard. Both Emmerich and Neumann remarked that he had very red lips. Neumann also was struck by his white teeth and the white of his eyes. The Venerable Bede describes him as being "of black complexion, with a heavy beard," and the "myrrh he held in his hands prefigured the death of the Son of man."

Clothing: His head covering consisted of a brilliant white ring surrounded by a hanging gold band; on the top of this crown were little gold rods with little gold globes, each of which was decorated with precious stones. Inside the circle of rods and globes—and rising somewhat above them—there was a sphere-shaped white cap, sewn with gold.

He also wore a striped, brightly colored tunic, gathered at the waist with a colored sash. The tunic reached his knees and had a broad gold hem, and somewhat narrower borders on the long, full sleeves and around the neck. He wore a sort of slipper, with golden bands wrapped crosswise around his feet and lower legs. His tunic was virtually adorned with gold embroidery over the breast.

Around his neck he wore about five golden chains of various forms, each adorned with pearls and fastened to the tunic. Hanging from these chains were various kinds of gold coins, with various ornamentation stamped on them.

His cloak which covered only in his shoulders was clasped in front with silver bands and buckles. The interior of the cloak was white, with flowers of various colors worked into the background and the gold border. It had a train of many folds which is carried by two servants.

Accompanied by: Approx. seventy servants, twenty soldiers, eight scholars, each of which had two servants, and a wife. Neumann notes that he had the biggest animals, with huge blankets on their backs, and then cushions and more blankets on top of them, and a good many people sitting on top of the elephants.

Gift for Jesus: Neither of our two mystics said explicitly, however St. Bede attributes to him the gift of myrrh.

Death: According to a Medieval saints calendar printed in Cologne, Balthazar died on January 6th, 55 AD at the age of 112. His remains are currently buried in the Shrine of the Three Kings in Cologne Cathedral.

Feast Day: January 6th

Above: Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral

Next, learn how to honor the three kings and protect your home by chalking your doors for Epiphany.

I'm Mary Fernandez, a Catholic mom of five with a passion for history and ancient remedies. Here at Humble Housewives, I dive into the world of holy saints and healing plants. Want to stay in the loop about new blog posts?