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THE FOURTH WISE MAN

 



Crèche de Saint Segal (Finistère), photo Couix

Once upon a time there was a fourth Wise Man (Oriental King) History doesn’t tell us ; but history cannot tell it all. The fourth King came from even further away than the other three Kings. He came from the furthest part of Gaul, in other words, from the other side of the world, from a country called Pelloc’hoaz. Beyond his kingdom lay only the sea and a few islands where the cries could be heard of flocks of gulls from the islands where it was believed that the souls of the deceased stopped over before the angels called them to heaven.

Now, the King of Pelloc’hoaz was warned in a dream that the King of Kings was to come down to earth and that the whole world was expecting Him. So he decided to set out at once for a place which a brilliant new Star suddenly appearing in the sky would lead him to. The King chose as a gift for the Infant-God, three rare pearls, the most precious of all the treasures inherited from his ancestors.
One was like pink mother of pearl. It had the sparkle and the daintiness of hues that one sees in the sea at daybreak, at Carantec and Callot, in that part of the Bay of Morlaix called Paradise. The pearl was in the shape of a heart and in it beat all that causes of the joys and sorrows of the world. It was a live pearl and, by offering it, the King of Pelloc’hoaz wanted to offer what was closest to his heart ; his emotions and his worries, his deepest happiness and his most secret sufferings.

The second pearl was green in colour. Like the grasslands of Trogriffon on a frosty morning or the vale of Bigodou, in the October sunshine. In this pearl could be found a reflection of the countryside with its flowers, animal life and all the gentleness of things. By bringing this pearl to the Son of God, the King wanted to make a presentation of all his earthly possessions, not only his own wealth but also the whole of creation ; everything he could survey from his keep overlooking the waters and admire at leisure. The King thought to himself that if the swirling of the sea was so powerful and the sunsets so magnificent between Kerrec-Hir and the Ile de la Vierge, how much more sumptuous still were the shoals of of fish with their stripes of gold and silver swimming amongst the silken algae swaying like banners in the wind among shining forgotten treasures. The pearl with the greenish tinges sang of the splendours of the visible and invisible world, and the King wanted to give it because with this pearl he was giving back to the Creator love for love.

The third pearl was white. Or rather, it was transparent. It was not light, but it diffused light. On looking at it, one was enlightened. One could see the right path to follow, the counsel one could suggest, the solution one had been looking for for such a long time. By means of this pearl, life became straightforward, things fell into place as well as relationships between creatures, with their original transparency. In giving this pearl to the Newborn Child, the King wished to hand over to him all his wisdom ; his intelligence and his spirit.

So it was that the King, holding tightly onto his casket containing these three unique pearls set out on foot. As you can imagine, the journey was very, very long and more than once the procession had to stop on the way because of unforeseeable events. When he arrived at last in the country where the Star stood still, the King noted a strange noise coming from the surrounding towns and villages. It was like a great lament that nothing could console. The King’s heart was torn with grief and he was wondering what it could be when one of his heralds came to tell him that a barbaric order from Herod had spread death and destruction in the homes of the Jews, by slaughtering all male children under the age of two. Hardly had the herald finished his horrifying story than a woman with a tortured expression on her face burst into the inn where the King had stopped over. She was clasping to her breast a child with terror visible in his eyes and she said she was being pursued by Herod’s murderous men.

Indeed, in the doorway there were some of Herod’s mercenaries, men with bestial faces brandishing blood-smeared swords. They were pursuing the young mother and had been ordered to kill the little Jewish boy. The King of Pelloc’hoaz looked them in the eyes. The brutes did not want to retract : they had to kill the child. Then the King called for his casket and took out the pink pearl. It was of such rare beauty that the mercenaries decided immediately that they would not find anywhere in the world an opportunity of such great price and that they would never recieve such a great reward even if they carried out Herod’s orders to the last detail. They grabbed the pearl and fled, leaving their swords on the doorstep of the inn.

The King of Pelloc’hoaz went on his way, hoping to find the Infant-God. How was he to set about it and why had the star stopped shining above his head ? He didn’t understand. Anyway, once, on entering a village, he passed an unusual group of people ; a squad of soldiers were taking away a young men who was struggling and shouting. Behind them followed a group of people with an older woman, no doubt the mother of the prisoner. The man they were taking away was indeed her only son, and she was a widow. He had indeed committed a theft, for they were poor and had nothing to live on. On learning this, the King of Pelloc’hoaz was moved, and although he did not approve of theft, he did not approve either of the brutality of the guards taking the man away and he asked them to free the thief. As the soldiers refused, the King offered them a significant ransom price for the prisoner. The soldiers still refused. Then the King opened up his casket and took out the pearl with the greenish tinges. The guards, utterly won over, immediately calculated the value of the fortune represented by this jewel and agreed to hand the young man back to his mother.

Now the King only had the white pearl left to offer the Son of God. For a long time he continued to look for the child for whom he had left his castle by the sea, his country covered in flowering heather, at the other end of the world. In fact he continued his search for thirty years in the country where the Star had led him.

One day as he was approaching the City of Peace ; he saw a young girl running towards him and she flung herself into his arms. She was running away from men who were stoning her because they accused her of having betrayed her father while her parents, very pious people, had promised her in marriage to a rich old man of their family line. The young girl did not want to die and so she begged the King of Pelloc’hoaz to save her life. The King tried in vain to persuade those in her pursuit not to stone the young girl before making sure that their information was correct and not just false accusations brought against her by jealous men ; it was of no avail. The accusers were all the more fierce as they had the law on their side and some of them were lawyers. So the King of Pelloc’hoaz decided to hand over the last pearl…

When he showed it to the outraged men they drew back, dumbstruck. Their eyes burned with desire before the luminous pearl that the King held in his fingers. " Come on ! ", he said to them, holding out the treasure, while the young girl, panting, fainted in his arms.

At that very moment the King heard a noise coming from a little lane down in the town. It was the sound of cries, clamouring, and whistling accompanying a condemned man being dragged up outside the walls of the city to be crucified. The revolting cortège was approaching. The King of Pelloc’hoaz saw the man being led to his death. And the Man turned his face towards him, and he looked at him. And the King knew that it was Him. It was the Child he had been looking for such a long time !… That was what men had done to him !…

The King of Pelloc’hoaz opened his hands : he had nothing left, nothing to offer in exchange for the life of the Son of Man. He had given everything on the way. Then, on the indescribable face of Jesus, the King saw his three pearls. They were shining, intact, richer and more luminous than in the box in the cassette ; and it was as if they were vibrant, all three of them, with what he had wanted to bring to the Child. He heard a voice saying to him : " Go in peace, as for your gift, I truly did receive it ! "

The King of Pelloc’hoaz realised that everything he had done for the people along the way, he had in fact done for God.



Dominique de Lafforest


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