Many of us may not know the particulars of the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which we celebrate today. Here is the story.
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, Joachim and Anne, who had been childless, received a heavenly message that they would have a child.
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 prophet Samuel, whose mother Hannah, like Anne was also thought to be barren, and who offered her child as a gift to God at Shiloh. Later versions of the story tell us that Mary was taken to the Temple at around the age of three 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.
Mary remained in the Temple until her twelfth year, at which point she was assigned to Joseph as guardian. According to Coptic tradition, her father Joachim died when Mary was six years old and her mother when Mary was eight. While the story cannot be discerned from recorded history, the point is to show that even in her childhood Mary was completely dedicated to God. It is from this account that arose the feast of Mary’s Presentation.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.