Together with gold and incense, it is always cited as one of the gifts that the Three Wise Men brought to Bethlehem on the occasion of the birth of Jesus, on the day that is currently celebrated as Epiphany, but not everyone knows what myrrh is. Used today as a component of pharmaceutical products and perfumes, it has actually been known and used since ancient times.
What is myrrh
Myrrh is an aromatic gum resin, with a bitter taste and a color varying from yellowish to reddish-brown, secreted by some plants of the Commiphora genus and, in particular, by two species: Commiphora myrrha and Commiphora erythraea. These are plants widespread especially in East Africa and the Middle East. The myrrh harvest takes place at the end of summer, when the plant flowers and nodules appear on the trunk from which the gum resin comes out. The yellow drops are collected one by one and then dried. Today it is used to make mouthwashes to soothe the oral cavity or in astringent, soothing and healing creams. It is also used as a component of perfumes. It was already known in ancient Egypt, where it was used in embalming.
Epiphany, Pope: “Let us pray for peace”. VIDEO
What does it represent
Myrrh is mainly known for being one of the three gifts that the Three Wise Men brought to the baby Jesus on the occasion of his birth, but what meaning do the three gifts have? What do they symbolize? Over the centuries, various interpretations have been given. In the 2nd century Saint Irenaeus explained the meaning of the three gifts: myrrh is the oil traditionally used for burial and alludes to the Passion of Christ, gold is a symbol of royalty, incense is reserved for God. In the 12th century, however, Bernard of Clairvaux will explain that the gold was to alleviate the poverty of the Virgin, the incense to disinfect the stable of Bethlehem and the myrrh as a vermifuge. Luther, four centuries later, instead associated them with faith, hope and charity, the three theological virtues.
Epiphany, the 5 (+1) films to watch with the family on Epiphany day