Our feast today is known in the Western Roman Catholic Church as the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and in the Eastern Churches as the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. It is a Catholic Liturgical feast celebrated on November 21 every year.
This feast is not derived from the New Testament of the Holy Bible but from the Protoevangelium of James, which was discovered in the 2nd century.
In this writing, James says that Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, were old, wealthy but childless. After much prayer and fasting, they received a message from heaven that they will be blessed with a child.
The couple were blessed with a daughter and named her Mary, and after three years, in thanksgiving, they consecrated her to God and took her to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem and remained there. This was after they had made a vow to dedicate their child to God if they were blessed with one.
The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the temple is likened to that of Samuel who was offered as a gift to God and presented to the temple by her mother Anne, who was also barren.
Mary remained in the temple until she was 12 years when she was taken under the care of St Joseph. It is said that her father Joachim died when she was 6 years and her mother died when she was eight years old.
This feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary was first held in the Eastern Church around the 6th century but the Western Roman Catholic Church did not embrace it until the 15th century.
The feast started to be celebrated by the Byzantines after the dedication of the newly-built Basilica of Saint Mary in 543 AD in Jerusalem. However, the basilica was destroyed during the Siege of Jerusalem in 614.
Even after the siege, the Eastern Church continued to celebrate the feast. In 1372, Pope Gregory XI introduced this feast to the Roman Catholic Church and in 1472 it was included in the Roman Missal. However, in 1568, Pope Pius V suppressed this feast but it was reintroduced in 1585 by Pope Sixtus V.
The feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary signifies the lifelong and total devotion that Mary made to God through her Immaculate Conception. She listened to the voice of God while still in her childhood and agreed to become the temple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
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