The Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the lesser-known Marian feasts, but by no means an unimportant one. Celebrated every year on November 21, the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrates the fulfillment of the vow made by Saints Joachim and Anna, Mary's parents, to dedicate their daughter to God in thanksgiving for her conception and birth after decades of infertility. On her third birthday, the Blessed Virgin's parents took her to the Temple in Jerusalem, where Mary voluntarily stayed until the age of 12, when she was betrothed to Saint Joseph.
As with the Assumption of Mary, the details of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin come from extrabiblical sources, especially the Protoevangelium of James. But the fact that the source did not make it into the canon of the Bible does not mean that what it recounts is not worthy of belief. Indeed, from the earliest centuries of Christianity, Christians have found in this story a deeper meaning, an identification of Mary as the new Temple, in which God came to dwell.
The feast is sometimes called the Dedication of the Blessed Virgin Mary—a reference to the action of Saints Joachim and Anna—but that title reminds us, too, of Mary's own dedication to the divine will from the earliest years of her life. It's a dedication that we should emulate.
Learn more about the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
(Stained-glass window of The Dedication of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Saint Mary Cathedral, Lansing, Michigan. Photo © Scott P. Richert)