What We Bring

Last century (literally) I was researching for my master’s thesis on early Franciscan Missions. One of the really interesting aspects of the early Franciscan missions was the one to China. The friars arrived in China in 1292 and John of Montecorvino was the first bishop of Beijing. But all that is beside the point. In the course of my research, I ran across The Travels of Marco Polo in which he describes his travels in the far east. I was scanning the text to see if he had any mention of contact with the friars or the Christian monasteries that dotted the silk road in those days. While he had no mention of either – he did recount a most interesting rendition of the account of the Three Magi. Marco Polo wrote that he encountered this version in Persia (modern-day Iran). In that account there are three magi – but they are not traveling together. Each is on his own journey following the star to Bethlehem. Melchior is an older man, Balthazar is an adult in his middle years, and Gaspar is a young man just reaching adulthood.

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