The meaning of the celebration
+ An early non-biblical texts 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 does invite 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).
Many religious communities honor Mary in a special way today by renewing their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, reflecting on Mary’s wholehearted dedication to God throughout her life.
“Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!
See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.
Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day,
and they shall be his people,
and he will dwell among you,
and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.”—Zechariah 2:14-15
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,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.