The Star of Bethlehem has become an indispensable part of the Christmas Crib. But, we do not see the star in Gospel narrations till the time Magi arrive :

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising,...... Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. ................ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.

It is possible that the Magi had set out from their homeland(s) on seeing the star, the rising of which coincided with the Nativity. But, it is strange that there is no mention of the star at the time of Nativity in the gospels. The star could be mentioned along with the celestial song of the angels , and could work as a sign for the shepherds(Lk 2: 8-16).
My question therefore, is: According to Catholic scholars, was the Star visible over Bethlehem on the day of Nativity ?

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    It is recognized by Catholic scholars that the Magi arrived 1 to 2 years after the birth of Christ. Thus, I believe Catholic scholars may not have an opinion on this.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 6:19
  • Thanks. But, is it not possible the Magi took more than a year to reach Jesus after the first apparition of the Star ? Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 7:28
  • And the Magi called it HIS STAR, not as a guiding star leading to Him. Naturally, His Star rose when He was born on the earth , but was not recognized by many. Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 8:56
  • The "star" could not possibly have been a literal star. Bethlehem is only about 9 km south of Jerusalem, which is about .08 degrees of latitude. For comparison, that's about one sixth of the diameter of the moon or the sun; it's how much the fixed stars move in 40 seconds. Consider looking at the night sky, observing how much the stars have moved since a minute ago, and then say that one particular star is now over a specific location 9 km away. Without incredibly accurate instruments, no one could do it. Whatever "the star" was, it had to be very close to the surface of the Earth. Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 17:14
  • The star could be any celestial body that creates light, according to the understanding of stars in that time period. A common theory is that the star was the planet Jupiter.
    – Jeh
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 18:17

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure what you mean by the day of Nativity? It was there when the Magi arrived at the residence.

In Matthew 2 the Magi followed the star they had seen in the east as it went ahead of them until it stopped over the exact place where the child was. So, this is not some star way up in the night sky; it must have been low to the ground at the time it hovers over the exact residence where the child lay. Moreover, the passage seems to imply the star was moving ahead of them as they followed it.

The most likely answer as to what this star is, is found by looking at other examples. When Paul encountered Jesus on the Damascus Highway at the time of his conversion (Acts 9) he and those with him saw a bright light, and heard a voice, but saw no man. This is after Jesus' ascension and he was no longer in earthly flesh. God is Spirit (John 4:24).

The bright light Paul saw is the same as what Moses saw in the burning bush that was not consumed; it wasn't consumed because it was not on fire; Moses was seeing the glory of the Lord. Indeed, Ezekiel 28:1 describes the glory of the Lord as "brightness shinning round about." In regards to the second coming of Christ Paul writing to the Thessalonians spoke of the "brightness of his coming," and Jesus in Matthew said as lighting flashes from east to west, so shall the coming of the Son of man be.

So, I believe the star of Bethlehem is either the glory of the Lord or an angel of light. Since it hovered over the exact residence of where the child laid in the manger it was not a literal distant star up high in the sky. So, the nature of the star of Bethlehem best fits these other descriptions.

  • Can you please edit this to add some quotes or references from authoritative Catholic sources to show they agree with your analysis.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 15:42

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