This feast is also called the Presentation, Introduction, or Dedication of the Mother of God.
While it is true that Sacred Scripture makes no mention of the presentation of the Mother of God, its historical background may be found in apocryphal works, particularly the Protoevangel of St. James. According to the legend related there, Anna, after an angel had informed her that she was at last to bear a child, vowed to offer this child to the Lord. At the age of three, Mary accordingly was brought by her parents to the Temple to be dedicated to the Lord. There in the Temple Mary was reared “like a dove” and received her nourishment “from the hand of an angel.” Although this story appears only in apocryphal writings and cannot be taken seriously, it yet provides so striking a picture of Mary’s elect state and her perfect dedication to God’s will that it soon asserted its influence on the cycle of Marian feasts.
The idea of celebrating the entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple, at least in a symbolic sense, is an ancient one and seems to have arisen already in the fourth century. By the seventh century a liturgical canon, attributed to a Greek monk, George, had appeared in honor of this feast. The feast, however was not introduced in Constantinople before 700 A.D. this can be deduced from the fact that no such liturgical service was designated in the eighth century menaia of Constantinople. Our first certain evidence dated from the eleventh century. The feast is also to be found among those approved in the constitutions of Manuel Komenens in 1166. It was introduced in the West by am French nobleman, Philip de Maizieres, who attended the court of Gregory XI at Avignon in 1371 as an ambassador of the king of Cyprus. In 1472, Pope Sixtus IV extended its observance to the universal church.
In the Byzantine rite, this feast has a one-day pre-festive period and a post-festive period of four days.
A summary of the feast is to be found in the troparion and kontakion: “Today is the prelude of the benevolence of God and the herald of salvation of men, for the Virgin plainly appears in the temple of God and foretells Christ to all. Let us also with full voice cry out to Her: Hail, fulfillment of the Creator’s plan!” (troparion). “The most pure temple of the Savior, the richest palace, and the holy treasury house of the glory of God today enters into the house of the Lord,, bringing grace which is in the Sprit of God. The angels of God sing to Her: This is the heavenly tabernacle!” (Kontakion).
St. John Damascene gives us food for meditation today: “Joachim married Anna, a most excellent and praiseworthy woman. Once there had lived another Anna who overcame physical sterility through prayer and a vow to God, then gave birth to Samuel. In a similar way our Anna received from God the Mother of God through a vow and heartfelt petition, for she would not yield in any way to the illustrious women of previous ages. Accordingly grace (for the word Anna means grace) gave birth to the Lady (this is signified by the name Mary). Truly Mary became the Lady above all creation in her role as the Mother of the Creator.”
“She was born in Joachim’s house near the Probatica and was presented in the Temple. Thus ‘planted in the house of God’ and nurtured by His Spirit she flowered forth in every virtue like a fruitful olive tree. She drove every worldly or sensual desire from her mind; She preserved her virginity of soul as well as of body, as was becoming to the one destined to carry God in her very bosom.” (stichera of vespers).
At matins of this feast, the first hint of Christmas is heard “Christ is born, glorify Him!”
Next Feast Days
|November 12||Feast of St. Josaphat
(Our Cathedral is named after this Feast Day)
|November 21||Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple|
|December 6||Feast of St. Nicholas|
|December 9||Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God|