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Feast of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple – November 21

The account of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple is principally based on the Protoevangelium of James, which has been dated by historians prior to the year 200 AD. 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.

Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple

Domenico Ghirlandaio Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple 1486-90 – Fresco Cappella Tornabuoni, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

 

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 is a legend with no foundation in 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.

November 21 is also a “Pro Orantibus” Day, a day of prayer for cloistered religious – totally dedicated to God in prayer, silence, and concealment.

 

Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary

O blessed Virgin Mary! who can duly thank thee, or herald forth thy praises, who, by the assent of thy single will, didst rescue a fallen world? What honor can be paid to thee by our weak human nature, which, by thy intervention alone, hath found the way to return to grace and life? Accept then, such poor thanks as we have here to offer, unequal to thy merits though they be; and, accepting our good desires, obtain by thy prayers the remission of our offenses. Graciously hear our prayers, and obtain for us the remedy of reconciliation.
May the offering we make to God through thee, through thee be acceptable in his sight; and may that be granted which we ask with trustful heart. Accept our offerings, grant us our petitions, banish our fears; for thou art the sole hope of sinners. Through thee we hope for forgiveness of our sins; and in thee, most blessed Lady, is the hope of our reward.
Holy Mary, succor the wretched, help the fainthearted, comfort the sorrowful, pray for the people, shield the clergy, intercede for holy women; let all who celebrate thy holy commemoration feel thy protection. Be thou at hand, ready to aid our prayers, and obtain for us what we desire. Make it thy care, blessed Lady, to intercede ever for the people of God–thou who didst deserve to bear the Redeemer of the world, who liveth and reigneth, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Indulgence of 50 days each time, His Holiness, Pius IX., May 19, 1854

 

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