- Presentation of Mary
The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (as it is known in the West), or The Entry of the Most Holy
Theotokosinto the Temple (its name in the East), is a liturgical feast celebrated by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
The feast is associated with an event recounted not in the
New Testament, but in the apocryphal Infancy Narrative of James. According to that text, Mary's parents, Joachimand Anne, who had been childless, received a heavenly message that they would bear a child. In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, they brought her, when still a child, to the Temple in Jerusalemto consecrate her to God. Mary remained in the Temple until puberty, at which point she was assigned to Joseph as guardian. Later versions of the story (such as the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthewand the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary) tell us that Mary was taken to the Temple at around the age of 3 in fulfillment of a vow. Tradition held that she was to remain there to be educated in preparation for her role as Mother of God.
There is no evidence that Jewish parents ever presented their daughters to the Jewish Temple, much less that Judaism has ever possessed a tradition of consecrated Temple virgins.
The feast originated in that of the dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary the New, which was built in 543 near the site of the Temple. The basilica was destroyed, but the feast was celebrated throughout the East. Adopted in the papal chapel in
Avignonin 1373, it was suppressed by Pope Pius Vin 1568, and so does not appear in the Tridentine Calendar. Pope Sixtus Vrestored it in 1585. ["Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), pp. 108-109]
Eastern Orthodox Churchcelebrates it as one of its twelve Great Feasts, with the first documented celebration of the feast in any calendar being the mention of the "Εἴσοδος τῆς Παναγίας Θεοτόκου" (Entry of the All-Holy Theotokos- i.e. into the Temple) in the 11th-century Menologyof the Eastern Roman (also known as Byzantine) emperor Basil II.
Roman Catholic Church, on the day of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary "we celebrate that dedication of herself which Mary made to God from her very childhood under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who filled her with grace at her Immaculate Conception." ["Liturgy of the Hours", 21 November]
In the same Church,
21 Novemberis also "Pro Orantibus" Day, a day of praying for cloistered religious "totally dedicated to God in prayer, silence and concealment". [ [http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/angelus/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_ang_20061119_en.html Angelus Address of Pope Benedict XVI, 19 November2006] ]
The Presentation in art
Western depictions usually focused on the lone figure of the young Mary climbing the steep steps of the Temple, having left her parents at the bottom, and climbing towards the Chief Priest and other Temple figures at the top of the steps. The Presentation was one of the usual scenes in larger cycles of the
Life of the Virgin, although it was not usually one of the scenes shown in a Book of hours.
* [http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=103357 The Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple] Orthodox
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12400a.htm Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary] - Catholic Encyclopedia article
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