Presentation of the Virgin

Texts

Protoevangelium of James 7:2-8:1

And when the child was three years old, Joachim said: 'Let us call the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews, and let each one take a lamp, and let these be burning, in order that the child may not turn back and her heart be enticed away from the Temple of the Lord.' And he did so until they went up to the Temple of the Lord. And the priest took her and kissed her and blessed her, saying: 'The Lord has magnified your name among all generations; because of you the Lord at the end of days will manifest his redemption to the children of Israel.'

And he placed her on the third step of the altar, and the Lord God put grace upon the child, and she danced for joy with her feet, and the whole house of Israel loved her.

And her parents went down wondering, praising and glorifying the almighty God because the child did not turn back. And Mary was in the Temple nurtured like a dove and received food from the hand of an angel.Schneemelcher and Wilson, New Testament Apocrypha, 1:429.

Cod. Marc. Gr. 524: Εἰς τὰ ἅγια τῶν ἁγίων

Kontakion

The most pure temple of the Savior, the most precious bridal chamber and Virgin, the sacred treasure of the glory of God, is today brought into the house of the Lord, bringing in with her the grace of the divine Spirit; her do the Angels of God hymn: she is the heavenly tabernacle.Many thanks to Nicholas Marinides, who kindly provided his translation for the Kontakion

Synaxarion of the Monastery of the Theotokos Evergetis: 21 November

Today is the prelude to God's goodwill and the proclamation in advance of mankind's salvation. In the temple of God the virgin is clearly shown forth and announces the good news of Christ to all. Let us too shout out in a loud voice to her "Hail, fulfilment of the Creator's dispensation."Synaxarion of the Monastery of the Theotokos Evergetis, 1:219.

Commentary

The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple does not come from the canonical Gospels, but instead from the apocryphal tradition, most importantly the Protoevangelium of James. The tradition follows Jewish custom, whereby a newborn infant is presented at the temple; it therefore parallels the Presentation of Christ, celebrated on 2 February (see Hypapante).

On seals, it is a fairly rare scene, even considering the scarcity of New Testament scenes generally. The young Mary is depicted between Zacharias, the high priest, and her parents, Joachim and Anna. Behind them are accompanying maidens, holding tapers. The architecture of the temple is represented schematically by arches and domes in the background, and an altar in between Mary and the priest. In the upper left, an angel is depicted visiting the enthroned Virgin.Cotsonis, "Narrative Scenes on Byzantine Lead Seals," 61.

 

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