Many of the celebrations in honor of Mary are based in historical fact. The Sacred Scriptures tell of her acceptance of God's invitation to be the mother of the Savior at the Annunciation. We know of her maternity and of her faithfulness to her Son, Jesus, even standing at the side of His cross. But the Scripturese tell us nothing of Mary's hidden life; there is no word about her Presentation in the Temple. However, we do have the testimonies of tradition, principally the account given in the protoevangelium of James. Pope Paul VI wrote of this feast that "despite its apocryphal content, it presents lofty and exemplary values and carries on the venerable traditions having their origins in the Eastern Churches." Today in the Byzantine Church this feast remains one of the twelve great feasts of the liturgical year, celebrating the same values that the Western church celebrates in the feast of the Immaculate Concepetion.

This feast of the Presentation of Mary recounts the gift of Joachim and Anna when they bring Mary to the temple at the age of three years. There Mary was received by the priest who proclaims, "The Lord has magnified your name in all generations. In you, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel." Mary is said to have danced with joy. Though there is no foundation in history for this legend, the point is to show that even in her childhood Mary was completely dedicated to God.

Historians tell us that the Emperor Justinian in 543 built a splendid church dedicated to Mary in the temple area in Jerusalem; it was destroyed by the Persians within a century. Many of the early church Fathers preached magnificent homilies on this feast, which only began to be celebrated in the Western Church in the 9th century. Its acceptance is considered very slow and it was not until the year 1472 that Pope Sixtus IV extended its celebration to the universal church.

Rev. Matthew Mauriello, article in Fairfield County Catholic, January, 1996.