The Catholic Defender: The Presentation of Mary


November 21 The Catholic Church honors The Presentation of 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 couple rejoiced at the birth of their daughter, whom Anne named Mary. When the child was three years old, Joachim and Anne, in fulfillment of her divine promise, brought Mary to the Temple of Jerusalem, where they left her to be brought up.


St. Anne was 18 when she married Joachim and they lived in her father's home for seven years. It was here that her first, little known daughter was born. She was called Mary Heli. After 7 years Anne and Joachim moved into a home of their own. (Editors note) Mary of Heli would be the wife of Clopas (John 19:25) and mother of James, Jude, Joses, and Simon who are listed as the "Brothers of the Lord" (Mark 6:3), they were close relatives to Jesus, cousins.

The couple rejoiced at the birth of their daughter, whom Anne named Mary. When the child was three years old, Joachim and Anne, in fulfillment of her divine promise, brought Mary to the Temple of Jerusalem, where they left her to be brought up.


On this day, the Church celebrates the mystery of Mary's first encounter with her God. With her YES, she goes up the steps of the Temple “without looking back”. She leaves everything and offers herself as a holy host, pleasing to God, giving herself entirely and forever.


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 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

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


Mary stayed in the temple until her twelfth year, the beginning of her puberty and her Bath-Mizva. According to Catholic tradition, her father Joachim died when Mary was six years old and her mother when Mary was eight.


Mary’s presentation was celebrated in Jerusalem in the sixth century. A church was built there in honor of this mystery. The Eastern Catholic Tradition 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.

It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond.


According to Jewish law, a first-born son must be circumcised after eight days and later presented in the Temple and redeemed by an offering to God. This commemorated the occasion when, in the time of Moses, the first born of the Egyptians were slain while the Jews were spared.


1 Samuel 1-28 tells the story of Hannah who was without child. Eventually "She conceived and, at the end of her pregnancy, bore a son whom she named Samuel. “Because I asked the LORD for him.”

I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request. Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.” Then they worshiped there before the LORD."