Today is the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
According to tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary was consecrated to God as a young child and was given by her holy parents, St. Anne and St. Joachim, to live in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. This special feast day honoring this event appeared in the East much earlier than it did in the West. Then, in the late Middle Ages it was promoted as a feast day for the universal Church.
Much like the Old Testament story of Hannah and her son Samuel, tradition holds that Mary, as a little girl of three years old, was given to God to be educated and raised in the temple as a result of a promise made between God and St. Anne while St. Anne suffered from a long period of infertility.
Excerpts from The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary
by Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich
“Joachim went first to the Temple with Zechariah and the other men. Afterwards Mary was taken there by her mother Anna in a festal procession. First came Anna and her elder daughter Mary Heli, with the latter’s little daughter Mary Cleophas; then the holy child Mary followed in her sky-blue dress and robe, with wreaths round her arms and neck; in her hand she held a candle or torch entwined with flowers. Decorated candles like this were also carried by three maidens who walked on each side of her, wearing white dresses embroidered with gold. They, too, wore pale-blue robes; they were wreathed round with garlands of flowers, and wore little wreaths round their necks and arms as well. Next came the other maidens and little girls, all in festal dress but each different. They all wore little robes. The other women came at the end of the procession.”
. . . . .“When Joachim’s sacrifice started to burn, Anna went, with the child Mary in her ceremonial dress and with her companions, into the outer court of the women, which is the place in the Temple set apart for women.”
. . . .
“Zechariah and Joachim came out of the court of sacrifice and went up to this altar with a priest, in front of whom stood another priest and two Levites with scrolls and writing materials. Anna led the child Mary up to them; the maidens who had accompanied Mary stood a little behind. Mary knelt on the steps, and Joachim and Anna laid their hands on her head. The priest cut off a few of her hairs and burnt them in a brazier. Her parents also said a few words, offering up their child; these were written down by two Levites. Meanwhile the maidens sang the 44th Psalm (Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum) and the priests the 49th Psalm ( Deus, deorum Dominus, locutus est ) accompanied by the boys with their instruments.
I then saw Mary being led by the hand by two priests up many steps to a raised place in the wall dividing the outer court of the Holy Place from the other court. They placed the child in a sort of niche in the middle of this wall, so that she could see into the Temple, where there were many men standing in ranks; they seemed to me to be also dedicated to the Temple. Two priests stood beside her, and still others on the steps below, singing and reading aloud from their scrolls. On the other side of the dividing wall there was an old high priest standing at an altar of incense, so high up that one could see half of his figure. I saw him offering incense and the smoke from it enveloping the child Mary. . ."\\\