Icon of The Presentation of the Theotokos

The Entrance of the Theotokos
into the Temple

Celebrated November 21st (December 5th)

"And the child [Mary] was two years old, and Joachim said: 'Let us take her up to the temple of the Lord, that we may fulfill the promise we have made, lest the Lord warn us, and our offering not be received.' And Anna said: 'Let us wait a third year, in order that the child may not seek father or mother.' and Joachim said: 'Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them each take a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated with the temple of the Lord.' The priest received her, kissed her, and blessed her, saying: 'The Lord has magnified your name in all generations. In you, in the last days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel.' And he set her down upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her."

Taken from the Proevangelion of James.

The main theme of the feast of Mary's entrance to the Temple, repeated many times in the liturgical services, is that she enters the temple to become herself the Living Temple of God, thus inaugurating the New Testament in which are fulfilled the prophecies of old that "the dwelling of God is with man" and that the human person is the sole proper dwelling place of the Divine Presence. (Ezekiel 37:27; John 14:15-23)

Thus, the feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple celebrates the end of the physical temple in Jerusalem as the dwelling place of God. In this feast, we also celebrate that - in the person of the Theotokos - we, too, are the house and tabernacle of the Lord.

Adapted from The Orthodox Faith, Vol. II: Worship, by Fr. Thomas Hopko.

About the Icon

Sts. Joachim and Anna are shown as an elderly couple on the left side of the icon - Joachim with white hair and beard, Anna robed in blue. The Theotokos appears as a miniature adult in the center of the icon, rather than an infant, alluding to her ultimate role. To Mary's right, the high priest, Zachariah, receives her with open arms; he too is depicted as white-haired and elderly.

Adapted from The Icon Book, by Boojamra, Essey, McLuckie, and Matusiak.

Click [HERE] for a black and white icon of the Entrance of the Thotokos to color (GIF format, 48 KB).


Today is the prelude of the good will of God,
of the preaching of the salvation of mankind.
The Virgin appears in the Temple of God,
In anticipation proclaiming Christ to all.
Let us rejoice and sing to her: Rejoice,
O Fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation!


The most pure Temple of the Savior;
the Precious Chamber and Virgin;
the sacred Treasure of the Glory of God,
is presented today to the House of the Lord.
She brings with her the grace of the spirit,
which the angels of God do praise.
Truly this woman is the Abode of heaven!

Some Things To Do

Plan to celebrate the feast by attending Vespers on November 20th and Liturgy the morning of the feast; in the Vesperal hymns for the Entrance of the Theotokos, the Nativity of Our Lord is already being heralded.
Have your children, with your guidance, make a reasonable promise to God during the festal period. Explain that God keeps His promises to us, and is happy when we keep our promises to Him.

Adapted from a compilation by Fr. Stephen Belonick, Binghampton, NY.

© 1996 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).
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