The Catholic Defender: Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
It commemorates a visit by the three-year-old Mary to the Temple in Jerusalem, where she was dedicated to the service of God and left to be raised as a consecrated virgin. This act was done in fulfillment of a sacred promise made by her parents, Saints Anne and Joachim, during their long struggle with childlessness.
The Presentation of Mary reminds us that we can go on a pilgrimage of thanksgiving, to give thanks to God for a blessing received. In their gratitude, Joachim and Anne pledged to dedicate Mary to God and give her to His service in the temple. To carry this out, it meant they had to make sacrifice and go on pilgrimage.
The consecration of Mary to God presented all the conditions of the most perfect sacrifice: it was prompt, generous, joyous, unregretted, without reservation. How agreeable it must have been to God!
Anne Catherine Emmerich, Bl. Anne describes Mary being brought to the Temple at the tender age of three by Joachim and Anne. There, Mary attended the priests and Levites in the sacred ministry of the temple along with other consecrated virgins for several years until her betrothal to Joseph.
to experience the joy of Christ and share it with others; to never let adversity beat you down; and always help those in need with love and mercy,
It's no wonder, then, that the imitation of Mary's evangelical virtues has long been regarded as a sure way to Christian perfection. The virtue associated most closely with her is purity. But her faith, obedience, love, and poverty also come readily to mind
8 qualities of Mary
The feast is associated with an event recounted not in the New Testament, but in the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James. According to that text, Mary's parents, Joachim and Anne, who had been childless, received a heavenly message that they would have a child. In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, they brought her, when still a child, to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God.
The account of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple is principally based on the Protoevangelium of James, which has been dated by historians prior to the year 200 AD. The story relates that in thanksgiving for the birth of their daughter Mary, Joachim and Anne decide to consecrate her to God, and bring her, at the age of three years, to the temple in Jerusalem. Mary’s presentation in the temple draws parallels to that of the prophetSamuel, whose mother Hannah, like Anne, was also thought to be barren, and who offered her child as a gift to God at Shiloh.
The feast continued to be celebrated throughout the East, was celebrated in the monasteries of Southern Italy by the ninth century, and was introduced into the Papal Chapel in Avignon in 1372 by decree of Pope Gregory XI.
The congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, dedicated to the education of youth, was founded November 21, 1796
Mary’s presentation was celebrated in Jerusalem in the sixth century. A church was built there in honor of this mystery. The Eastern Church was more interested in the feast, but it does appear in the West in the 11th century. Although the feast at times disappeared from the calendar, in the 16th century it became a feast of the universal Church.
As with Mary’s birth, we read of Mary’s presentation in the temple only in apocryphal literature. In what is recognized as an unhistorical account, the Protoevangelium of James tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was 3 years old. This was to carry out a promise made to God when Anna was still childless.
Though it cannot be proven historically, Mary’s presentation has an important theological purpose. It continues the impact of the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the birth of Mary. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond.
It is sometimes difficult for modern Westerners to appreciate a feast like this. The Eastern Church, however, was quite open to this feast and even somewhat insistent about celebrating it. Even though the feast has no basis in history, it stresses an important truth about Mary: From the beginning of her life, she was dedicated to God. She herself became a greater temple than any made by hands. God came to dwell in her in a marvelous manner and sanctified her for her unique role in God’s saving work. At the same time, the magnificence of Mary enriches her children. They—we—too are temples of God and sanctified in order that we might enjoy and share in God’s saving work.