The meaning of the celebration
+ An early non-biblical text called the Protoevangelium of James relates that when the Blessed Virgin was three years old, her parents, Anne and Joachim, took her to the Temple in Jerusalem to present her to the Lord. This tradition is based on the ancient Jewish custom of dedicating first-born sons to God, although there is no similar obligation regarding girls.
+ There is no indication in the Mass or the Liturgy of the Hours for today that this is the event celebrated in this memorial. In fact, this celebration dates back to the eighth century and recalls the dedication of a basilica built in Mary’s honor in Jerusalem in 543.
+ Although this is a relatively new celebration in the Roman Rite (it was added to the calendar in 1585), this memorial invites us to recall that God exalted Mary above all women on earth and we ask, through Mary’s intercession, “that we, too, may merit to receive the fullness of [God’s] grace” (from the Collect).
For prayer and reflection
“We owe so much to this Mother! She is present at every moment in the history of salvation, and in her we see a firm witness to hope. She, the mother of hope, sustains us in times of darkness, difficulty, discouragement, of seeming defeat or true human defeat. May Mary, our hope, help us to make of our lives a pleasing offering to the Heavenly Father, and a joyful gift for our brothers and sisters, in an attitude that always looks forward to tomorrow.”—Pope Francis
On this day we also remember Blessed Clelia Merloni. In 1894 she established the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the remainder of her life was spent dealing with turmoil within and around the community, although she herself always remained faithful to her vocation and devotion to the Heart of Christ. Blessed Clelia died on November 21, 1930, in Rome, and was beatified in 2018.
Several religious communities are named in honor of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, including:
The Dominican Sisters of Charity of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: www.presentation-op-usa.org
The Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen: www.presentationsisters.org
The Presentation Sisters of Watervliet: www.presentationsisterswatervlietny.com
The Sisters of Mary of the Presentation: www.sistersofmaryofthepresentation.org
The Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (New Windsor, NY): www.sistersofthepresentation.org
The Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Dubuque, IA): www.dubuquepresentations.org
The Sisters of the Presentation of Mary: www.presentationofmary-usa.org
The Union of Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (San Antonio, TX): www.pbvmunion.org
The Presentation Brothers: www.PresentationBrothers.org
As we venerate the glorious memory
of the most holy Virgin Mary,
grant, we pray, O Lord, through her intercession,
that we, too, may merit to receive
from the fullness of your grace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.