The adoration of the Magi was an important subject for Florentines, as many men were part of the civic organization dedicated to the Magi. Palla Strozzi, a powerful banker, commissioned Gentile da Fabriano (1385–1427) to paint this work for his family burial chapel in the sacristy of Santa Trinita in Florence. Da Fabriano’s paintings combine the naturalism of the Early Renaissance with the elegant, refined drapery style and meticulous attention to detail that characterize the International Gothic style. In this composition, the oldest Magus prostrates himself before the Christ child, who affectionately touches his balding head; the second Magus lifts his right hand to remove his crown; the youngest Magus stands waiting his turn. The predella (the horizontal panel beneath the central composition) shows three scenes from the infancy narrative of Christ: Nativity (bottom left) is believed to be the first painted night scene.
I don't much like the days and weeks after Christmas. Christmas takes so long to get here, with preparations and anticipation building from mid-November on. And then, sometime during the day of December 25, it all collapses.
At some point I picked up the idea that wiser Christians ask fewer questions. That somehow they pick up “the answers” somewhere along the way. More mature Christians could always find The Answer in the Bible, no matter how remote the question might be. And, speaking of questions, that’s one thing real Christians wouldn’t have. Or at least, I wouldn’t know it if they did.
I was talking with a young woman who had left our church a few years earlier and remembered that she had celebrated her birthday recently. “Happy Birthday!” I said, but she seemed confused. I realized I had crossed that invisible line that divides friends from mere acquaintances. Only your good friends know when your birthday is coming. So how did I know the date? There was no reason.