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Why do Catholics celebrate the feast of the Presentation?

This feast day celebrates both the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, as well as the Purification of Mary, which was required by the Mosaic Law forty days after the birth of a child.

The Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2, also called Candlemas for the custom of using lighted candles. In the early Church it was often celebrated on February 14th, 40 days after the Epiphany, in keeping with the practice of celebrating Christmas on that date in the East. Among the Orthodox it is known as the Hypapante (“Meeting” of the Lord with Simeon).


Why is the Presentation of Jesus important?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 529) teaches, The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord. With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Savior-the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the “light to the nations” and the “glory of Israel,” but also “a sign that is spoken against.” The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ's perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had “prepared in the presence of all peoples.” It is also important to note that, as a poor family, the Holy Family gave an offering of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. However, the Lamb whom they brought to the Temple was the Lamb of God.

At what age was Jesus presented in the temple? He was presented when He was still a newborn, only 40 days old.

“Simeon’s words seem like a second Annunciation to Mary, for they tell her of the actual historical situation in which the Son is to accomplish his mission, namely, in misunderstanding and sorrow. While this announcement on the one hand confirms her faith in the accomplishment of the divine promises of salvation, on the other hand it also reveals to her that she will have to live her obedience of faith in suffering, at the side of the suffering Savior, and that her motherhood will be mysterious and sorrowful.” — Pope St. John Paul II

Who are Simeon and Anna in the Bible?

The Gospel of Luke 2:22-40 states: And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. Regarding Simeon and Anna, Pope Benedict XVI said, Even the priests proved incapable of recognizing the signs of the new and special presence of the Messiah and Saviour. Alone two elderly people, Simeon and Anna, discover this great newness. Led by the Holy Spirit, in this Child they find the fulfilment of their long waiting and watchfulness. They both contemplate the light of God that comes to illuminate the world and their prophetic gaze is opened to the future in the proclamation of the Messiah: “Lumen ad revelationem gentium!” (Lk 2:32). The prophetic attitude of the two elderly people contains the entire Old Covenant which expresses the joy of the encounter with the Redeemer. Upon seeing the Child, Simeon and Anna understood that he was the Awaited One.

“This is the meeting point of the two Testaments, Old and New. Jesus enters the ancient temple; he who is the new Temple of God: he comes to visit his people, thus bringing to fulfilment obedience to the Law and ushering in the last times of salvation.” - Pope Benedict XVI

What does the name “Simeon” mean?

This is a Hebrew name that means “he has heard” or “God has heard.”

When is St. Simeon’s feast day?

The Church celebrates his feast day on the day after Candlemas, February 3.

Was Simeon a prophet?

In Hebrew navi, a prophet is one who tells, a spokesperson of God, speaking divine truth, or foretelling what will be the consequences for the future. On both counts, Simeon was a prophet, who revealed the truth about who Jesus was, as well as the implications for Israel, for Jesus Himself and for Mary.

What does the name “Anna” mean? Originally taken from the Hebrew name Hannah, it means “favor” or “grace.”

When is St. Anna’s feast day?

Anna the Prophetess shares a feast day with St. Simeon on February 3.

“In the mysterious encounter between Simeon and Mary, the Old and New Testaments are joined. Together the aging prophet and the young mother give thanks for this Light which has kept the darkness from prevailing. It is the Light which shines in the heart of human life: Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world, ‘a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory of his people Israel.’” – Pope St. John Paul II