10. The Christmas Star

The Three Kings by David Jones. Engraving, dated 1926.

The words, ‘Omnes de Saba Venient’, are taken from the prophecy of Isaiah in the Bible (Chapter 60:6). ‘All shall come from Sheba bringing gold and frankincense, and showing forth praise to the Lord.’

This print from our Fine Art collection illustrates the story of the wise men from the nativity. After Jesus was born the ‘Christmas Star’ or, the ‘Star of Bethlehem’ appeared to three wise men or Magi. They knew of the prophecy about the coming of a Messiah for the Jewish people, and felt the star was a sign that a special King had been born in Israel.

The star guided the wise men to Bethlehem from their homeland in the ‘East’, which probably refers to the area of modern-day Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. It is thought that they reached the Holy family sometime after Jesus’ birth and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. In Western Christianity the visit is celebrated on Epiphany which is the 6th January.

This year on December 21st Jupiter and Saturn will appear closer in the night sky to form what is being called a ‘Christmas Star’, but what astronomers are referring to as the ‘Great Conjunction of 2020’. The two planets will look as though they are merging together to form a large bright ‘star’. The last time Jupiter and Saturn were so close together was nearly 800 years ago. It will be visible just above the horizon for around an hour after sunset, so let’s hope for clear skies to get a great view of this celestial event.