Pope Francis marked the holiday of Epiphany in a Mass at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica on Tuesday. The Catholic feast day, also known as Three Kings Day, celebrates the revelation of Jesus’ divine nature by the Magi, otherwise known as the Three Kings or Wise Men, who brought gifts to the baby Jesus, according to the biblical story. Francis said in his homily that the Magi represented “men and women who seek God in the world’s religions and philosophies.”
The pontiff noted that the church marks the holiday of Epiphany with solemnity, making it among the highest-ranking feasts in the liturgical calendar, according to the religion blog Patheos. By doing this, the blog notes, the church urges its followers to pray and meditate on the journey of the Magi, which is symbolically continued to the present day as the faithful continue to seek God.
“The wise men are thus models of conversion to the true faith, since they believed more in the goodness of God than in the apparent splendor of power,” said Francis, echoing the entreaties he has recently made to the church’s top officials. The reformist pope caused a stir in the Vatican after a scathing speech in late December which criticized the Curia, the church’s bureaucracy, for living hypocritical double lives and using their careers for power rather than to be “joyful men of God.”
Epiphany is celebrated around the world, most prominently in Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean, according to NBC. Several U.S. cities with Hispanic populations are holding Three Kings (Tres Reyes) celebrations on Tuesday, including New York, where top officials are expected to attend the annual Three Kings Parade in East Harlem. Chicago is also hosting a Three Kings Winter Parade.
The full text of Pope Francis’ Epiphany mass can be found here, and a live stream of the ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica can be viewed below: