EPIPHANY or THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI

This magnificent window is installed in the East Transept, North Wall, opposite the Organ Chamber. Epiphany, celebrated 12 days after Christmas, is the principal Christian feast of “manifestation”, from the Greek word epiphaneia meaning the perceptible, outward or visible expression of something to a time and place or “to show forth”.

Although we think of Epiphany as the arrival of the Magi or Wise Men who have followed the star in the Eastern sky to find the Christ child in the manger, Epiphany actually focuses on three events: the visit of the Wise Men (Matthew 2: 1-13), through which Jesus was manifested as the king of the Jews and the Gentiles or in other words, the whole world; the baptism of Jesus (Mark 1 and John 1:14), when Jesus was manifested to the world as the son of God; and the marriage feast at Cana (John 2), where his power to perform miracles was revealed in this first miracle of transforming water to wine. These three are celebrated, respectively, on January 6th and the following two Sundays.

These are not exactly the same three events depicted in the wood carving also highlighted this month, but the birth of Christ and visit of the Wise Men are one and the same with the first epiphany through which Jesus is revealed as the Royal child. The story in Luke of Anna and Simeon and The Presentation at the Temple is another important showing forth of the glory of Christ so they are all connected to epiphaneia and this time at the beginning of the Church calendar: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, the Baptism of Christ, the Miracle at Cana, and the Presentation at the Temple. All of these manifestations show us the many-faceted mystery of Christ. To take the manifestation of the glory and love of Jesus one step further, today it is seen through the mission, identity, and service of Christians and Christian groups.

The window celebrates The Adoration of the Magi, and was given in memory of Amy Henrietta McGusty, who died still a young child in 1915. It was designed and made by the English firm Heaton, Butler & Bayne of London in ca.1915. The artful composition of rich colors and soft hues is stunning. From the expressions on Mary and Joseph’s faces, hers beatific and his full of pride, to the focus on Jesus in his swaddling clothes and his glowing halo and raised arms, we know who is the center of attention and importance.

Overhead a star resembling a comet shines and the richly dressed kings hold their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh in golden containers as they present them along with their adoration. Nothing is spared to tell the viewer that the Holy Child is the Anointed One and the King of the Gentiles. Other symbolism includes the Christmas Rose to represent Nativity, Easter Lilies to foreshadow the future, and Joseph portrayed holding a saw in his left hand as a reminder that he was a carpenter and so would Jesus be for a time. The town of Bethlehem is in the background.

Karen Royce