Christianity Knowledge Base
Saint Melchior
The three Magi (Balthasar, Caspar, Melchior)
Melchior along with Caspar and Balthasar - from the pictorial encyclopedia Hortus Deliciarum by Herrad of Landsberg as reproduced by Christian Maurice Engelhardt
Three Magi, Three Kings, Three Wise Men
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Anglican Communion
Lutheran Church
Major shrineShrine of the Three Kings, Cologne Cathedral
Feast1 January (Date of his Death)
6 January (Epiphany)
AttributesKing bearing gifts, king on a camel, three crowns
PatronageEpilepsy, thunder, motorists, pilgrims, playing card manufacturers, sawmen, sawyers, travellers, travelling merchants, Cologne, Germany, Saxony

Saint Melchior, or Melichior, was purportedly one of the Biblical Magi along with Caspar and Balthazar who visited the infant Jesus after he was born. Melchior was often referred to as the oldest member of the Magi. He was traditionally called the King of Persia and brought the gift of gold to Jesus. In the Western Christian church, he is regarded as a saint (as are the other two Magi).


Girolamo da Santacroce - The Adoration of the Three Kings - Walters 37261 (2)

The Adoration of the Three Kings by Girolamo da Santacroce

The Gospels in the New Testament do not give the names of the Magi (or even their number), but their traditional names are ascribed to a Greek manuscript from 500 AD translated into Latin and commonly accepted as the source of the names.[1] Melchior was described by St Bede in the 8th century as being "an old man, with white hair and long beard." Melchior is also commonly referred to as the King of Persia. Following the Star of Bethlehem, the Magi first travelled to the palace of Herod the Great, who then asked for the Magi to find the Child Jesus and report back to him. Upon arriving at the house,[2] the Magi worshipped him and opened their gifts, with Melchior giving the gift of gold to signify Jesus' kingship over the world.[3][4] According to a medieval saints calendar, following his return to Persia, Melchior met up with the other Magi again in 54 AD in the Kingdom of Armenia to celebrate Christmas before dying at the age of 116 on 1 January 55 AD.[5]


Melchior, along with the other Magi, is purported to be buried in the Shrine of the Three Kings in Cologne Cathedral following his remains being moved from Constantinople by Eustorgius I in 314 AD to Milan. In 1164, Holy Roman Emperor Fredrick Barbarossa moved them to Cologne.[6] Melchior is commemorated on the Feast of Epiphany along with the other members of the Magi[5] but is also commemorated in Catholicism with his feast day, 6 January.[7]


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  1. Metzger, Bruce, New Testament Studies: Philological, Versional, and Patristic, Volume 10, 1980, BRILL, ISBN 9004061630
  2. Matthew 2:11
  3. Why Did the Magi Bring Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?. Biblical Archaeology Society.
  4. Freeman, Margaret (1978). The story of the Three Kings: Melchior, Balthasar and Jaspar. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Magi. Catholic Education.
  6. David Lowenthal, The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), xvi.
  7. Magi. Catholic Encyclopedia (1 October 1910).
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