domenica 5 gennaio 2014

Epiphany and the Magi procession

Tomorrow, January 6th is Epiphany. This greek word means "revelation" and refers to the episode told in Gospel by Matthew (2,12) which describes the visit of the three "wise men" called the Magi to the newborn Jesus in a manger. Starting from 1417 the Compagnia dei Re Magi in Florence arranged every 3 years an historical procession to celebrate the arrival of the three Magi in Bethlem. 
It seems that many members of the Medici family were part of this Company and in fact this historic procession was also represented in Benozzo Gozzoli's fresco (1459) in Palazzo Medici Riccardi where you can recognize many portraits of the Medici.

Benozzo Gozzoli fresco in the Chapel of the Magi in Palazzo Medici (1459) - particular
Three different processions started from the Baptistery to arrive at the Convent of San Marco, where the Company had its seat. This tradition was suppressed in 1494 when the Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola took the power in Florence and the Medici were chased out of the city.

Since 1997 this procession has been re-enacted again organized by Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore. The itinerary goes from The Pitti palace to the Duomo, where the nativity with actors and real animals like the oxe and the donkey is arranged in a crib and the Arbishop reads Matthew's Gospel.
The Magi procession today

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