The Presentation of Mary


Ok so we just celebrated the presentation of Mary. I understand we know that Mary was presented at the temple at the age of three. What I’m not clear about is our primary source for this information is found in the apocryphal writing of the gospel according to James. Why do we celebrate this feast with certainty based on an apocryphal writing?


I found this site has a nice explanation:

Also, in researching it, I found many scriptural references to being dedicated to the Lord which most certainly apply to Our Lady, for she didn’t decide she’d give her life unreservedly to God just at the Annunciation, but well before that. We can see this in her reply to the Archangel Gabriel when she asked, “How can this be since I know not man?” If she had expected to have normal sexual relations with her husband her more logical answer would have been, “Then Joseph is to be the father, seeing that I’m betrothed to him.” Gabriel cleared up everything for her by telling her what she’d already decided–that she was set apart for God alone, when he told her that “the power of the Most High will overshadow you and you will conceive and bear a son.” This was the same Power that overshadowed the Tabernacle of the Lord which God had Moses construct. There are many parallels between Mary and the Ark of the Covenant and other such biblical iconography. St. Alphonsus de Ligouri’s book “The Glories of Mary” is a great scriptural resource for the Marian teachings and feast days, as well. :slight_smile:


I had thought only boys were presented in the temple.


Very interesting…:slight_smile:


As I understand it, only first born sons were required to be presented to the Lord because he was to be offered to the Lord as the first fruits of a woman’s body.

Apparently girls were presented to serve in the Temple: So, although we don’t have direct biblical references to Mary’s presentation, it was in practice during her lifetime. Also, we have the story of Anna the Prophetess who lived in the Temple and who prophesied concerning Jesus being the one sent by God when he was presented by Mary and Joseph.


Thanks for the article, I just finished reading it.

I understand the theological significance and the lessons and insights that could be drawn from it. Shouldn’t it be reserved for theological studies and meditation rather than celebrating it as a feast as though it were a factual historical event?


Apparently, the Church disagrees with this limitation. After all, we believe in a good many things that have no historical events behind them, in the sense that we have no records for them. Since it is the kind of thing that Mary’s parents may have done and there is a solid ancient tradition that Mary was a temple virgin, plus the fact that it moves us to greater devotion to God as to our own vocations, I think it’s ranks well enough to be a memorial of the Church. :slight_smile: But, that’s not up to me or you–it’s one of those things the Magisterium decides.


Thanks :thumbsup:


You’re welcome. :tiphat:


The Nativity Gospel of James also records the Annunciation as a faithful rendition of Luke’s gospel. The feast of the Presentation of Mary belongs to the sacred liturgy which is the greatest of all monuments of sacred Tradition. So the feast isn’t based on the Proto-Gospel of James. The author of this gospel drew his material from nascent traditions, but he appears to have embellished them to some degree. For instance, Mary may have entered the temple service, but it’s questionable whether she was received at the age of three. What the gospel does reveal is that Marian devotion was fervent by the mid-second century.



The Protoevangelium of James is a work of pious historical fiction; the basic historical fact of Mary’s presentation was embellished with a bunch of imaginative details. That this embellished version of Mary’s presentation is now the earliest extant writing on the subject doesn’t mean Mary’s presentation never happened. It just means that Mary’s presentation might not have happened exactly as it is portrayed in the Protoevangelium.


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