adoration of the magi
madonna and child

The little office of the blessed Virgin Mary

Matins (The annunciation)

Lauds (The visitation)

Prime (The nativity)

Terce (The annunciation to the shepherds)

Sext (The adoration of the Magi)

Nones (The presentation in the temple)

Vespers (The massacre of the innocents)

Compline (The flight into Egypt)

The adoration of the magi. Giotto di Bondone. 1304-06. Cappella Scrovegni a Padova.The adoration of the Magi, A book of hours, ca. 1480. The adoration of the magi. Fra Angelico and Fra Fillipo Lippi. 1440/1460. The National Gallery of Art. Washington, DC The peafowl in this painting is an ancient Christian symbol of resurrection and rebirth. The mythological roots for this association are in a legend that the peafowl was immortal because its body never decayed. Peafowl feathers are sometimes components of altar adornment at Easter and Christmas.

Sext, or the sixth hour after dawn, refers to a long-standing tradition in Christian litugries favoring private and simple prayer at noon. At midday the sun is at its fullest and serves as a symbol of Divine splendor. This particular ritual hour also connects to significant events in biblical teaching. These include the hour when Adam and Eve ate the apple as well as the hour in which Christ was nailed to the cross. In The little office of the blessed virgin Mary, the adoration of the magi is part of the liturgical context for sext.