Orthodox Church celebrates Entrance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the Temple

04 December 2023 11:17
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Icon of the Entrance of the Blessed Virgin Mary into the Temple. Photo: life.fakty.com.ua Icon of the Entrance of the Blessed Virgin Mary into the Temple. Photo: life.fakty.com.ua

On this day Orthodox Christians remember how the righteous Joachim and Anna, according to their vow, dedicated their three-year-old daughter to the service of God.

On 4 December 2023, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church celebrates on of the twelve feasts – the Presentation of Our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos, and Our Lady Mary.

Church Tradition tells us about the events that the faithful remember on this day.

The parents of the Blessed Virgin, the righteous saints Joachim and Anna, praying for the gift of a child, made a vow to dedicate it to the service of God. When the Virgin Mary was three years old, they decided to fulfil their promise. Accompanied by relatives and acquaintances, with lit candles and singing sacred songs, Saints Joachim and Anna brought their daughter to the Temple in Jerusalem.

A steep staircase of fifteen high steps led up to the temple. It seemed that little Mary would not be able to climb up on her own, but when she was placed on the first step, she, strengthened by God's power, quickly overcame the other steps and came to the high priest who was waiting for her. According to Tradition, this was Saint Zacharias, the future father of the holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John. By inspiration from above, he led the Blessed Virgin into the Holy of Holies of the Temple, where only once a year the high priest was allowed to enter with the purifying sacrificial blood.

The Virgin Mary remained in the virgins' quarters of the temple. She was brought up in the company of pious virgins, studied the Holy Scriptures, did needlework and remained in constant prayer.

The celebration of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple in the first centuries of Christianity is known from the traditions of the Palestinian Christians. In the 4th century St Gregory of Nyssa mentions this feast. In the VIII-IX centuries the feast was widely spread, and in the X-XI centuries it acquired a solemn divine service.

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin falls on the Christmas fast. The church statute allows to eat fish on this day.

As the UOJ wrote, in Ukraine in 2023, for the first time, only the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church will observe the Nativity fast according to the Julian calendar.

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