Presentation of Our Lord and Savior in the Temple
Forty days after His birth the God-Infant was taken to the Jerusalem Temple, the center of the nation's
religious life. According to the Law of Moses (Lev. 12:2-8), a woman who gave birth to a male child
was forbidden to enter the Temple of God for forty days. At the end of this time the mother came to
the Temple with the child, to offer a young lamb or pigeon to the Lord as a purification sacrifice.
The Most Holy Virgin, the Mother of God, had no need of purification, since she had given birth to the
Source of purity and sanctity without defilement. However, she humbly fulfilled the requirements of the
At this time the righteous Elder Symeon (February 3) was living in Jerusalem. It had been revealed to him
that he would not die until he should behold the promised Messiah. By inspiration from above, St
Symeon went to the Temple at the very moment when the Most Holy Theotokos and St Joseph had brought
the Infant Jesus to fulfill the Law.
The God-Receiver Symeon took the divine Child in his arms, and giving thanks to God, he spoke the
words repeated by the Church each evening at Vespers: "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in
peace, according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before
the face of all people, a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel"
(Luke 2:29-32). St Symeon said to the Most Holy Virgin: "Behold, this child is set for the
fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against. Yea, a sword
shall pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed"
At the Temple was the 84-year-old widow Anna the Prophetess, daughter of Phanuel (February 3), "who
did not leave the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers night and day. She arrived just
when St Symeon met the divine Child. She also gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those
who were looking for redemption in Jerusalem" (Luke 2:37-38). In the icon of the Feast she holds a
scroll which reads: "This Child has established Heaven and earth."
Before Christ was born, righteous men and women lived by faith in the promised Messiah, and awaited His coming.
The Righteous Symeon and the Prophetess Anna, the last righteous people of the Old Testament, were
deemed worthy to meet the Savior in the Temple.
Ephraim wrote exclusively in Syriac, the Edessene dialect of Aramaic, but his works were translated into
The Feast of the Meeting of the Lord is among the most ancient feasts of the Christian Church. We have sermons
on the Feast by the holy bishops Methodius of Patara (†312), Cyril of Jerusalem (†360), Gregory the
Theologian (†389), Amphilocius of Iconium (†394), Gregory of Nyssa (†400), and John Chrysostom
(†407). Despite its early origin, this Feast was not celebrated so splendidly until the sixth
In 528, during the reign of Justinian, an earthquake killed many people in Antioch. Other misfortunes followed
this one. In 541 a terrible plague broke out in Constantinople, carrying off several thousand people
each day. During this time of widespread suffering, a solemn prayer service (Litia) for deliverence
from evils was celebrated on the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord, and the plague ceased. In
thanksgiving to God, the Church established a more solemn celebration of this Feast.
Church hymnographers have adorned this Feast with their hymns: St Andrew of Crete in the seventh century; St
Cosmas Bishop of Maium, St John of Damascus, and St Germanus Patriarch of Constantinople in the eighth
century; and St Joseph, Archbishop of Thessalonica in the ninth century.
On this day we also commemorate the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos known as "the Softening of Evil Hearts" or
"Symeon's Prophecy." The Mother of God is depicted without Her Child, with seven swords piercing her
breast: three from the left side, three from the right, and one from below.
A similar icon, "Of the Seven Swords" (August 13) shows three swords on the left side and four from the
The icon "Symeon's Prophecy" symbolizes the fulfillment of the prophecy of the righteous Elder Symeon:
"a sword shall pierce through your own soul" (Luke 2:35).
Reprinted with permission from J.Sanidopoulos Mystagogy Site