Medium: Illumination on parchment
Size: 18 x 14 cm
Date: c. 1123
Location: St. Albans Psalter, St Godehard's Church, Hilesheim.
Matthew 2:12: But God warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod. So they returned to their country on a different road.
That the Magi needed a supernatural revelation to warn them not to return by way of Jerusalem suggests their innocent naiveté. Even without Herod's unadmirable character, few kings would be ready to surrender their own rule to a nonrelative some foreigners hailed as king! The Magi's innocence compared to Herod's murderous shrewdness again reminds Matthew's readers not to prejudge the appropriate recipients of the gospel. Jesus is for all who will receive him, and God may provide Jesus' servants with allies in unexpected places if we have the wisdom to recognize them.
The kings, with realistically different poses, including one showing bare feet, are warned by the angel to return home without visiting Herod again. On a 12th-century capital at Autun, the angel also approaches from the side. The folds of the bed and the angel’s wings are echoed by the roof above.
One of several psalters known to have been created at or for St Albans Abbey in the 12th century, the St Albans Psalter, also known as the Albani Psalter or the Psalter of Christina of Markyate, is an English illuminated manuscript. With its almost unprecedented lavishness of decoration, containing a number of iconographic innovations that would endure throughout the Middle Ages, this psalter is widely considered to be one of the most important examples of English Romanesque book production.