The word “epiphany” means “manifestation,” and indicates that Christ showed Himself to the Three Kings. This feast has been celebrated in the Church since at least the III Century.
The Kings came from the East, perhaps Persia, following a star. Stopping over in Jerusalem to visit King Herod, they inquired whether he had heard of the King of the Jews being born whereupon he called in the scribes who told him the Savior would be born in Bethlehem, according to prophecy.
Herod asked that the Wise Men return once they had found the Messiah so that he too could "adore” Him.
The Three Kings went on following the star, found Christ and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. An angel subsequently appeared to them in a dream, warning them not to return to Herod, and they returned to their land by another route.
Epiphany Water may be blessed on the Feast of Epiphany for use of the faithful and placed in the holy water fonts as well. It is a very powerful sacramental and will help keep evil under control. Epiphany chalk is also blessed on Epiphany which is used to secure one’s home and placed over the doors to let evil know it is unwelcome in the dwelling.
Epiphany is a “little Christmas!”.
Holy Mother Church contemplates with zeal and affection the mystery of the Incarnation of the Lord. If, on Christmas Day, the Church emphasizes the threefold birth of the Word of God, in the Epiphany of the Lord she puts the accent on His manifestation (epiphaneia) to the world.
It is only fitting that this great feast witnesses a liturgical richness that should make it one of the highest points of the year for Catholics. Until 1955 it also had its own Octave, which was of great antiquity.
During the Mass, after the Gospel, the deacon or another priest, dressed in a cope, goes to the customary place where he proclaims the moveable feasts for the current year. For 2016, this will be: