The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple (November 21)


The Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos in the Temple is believed to be not among the most ancient festivals of the Church. However, indications that the Feast was observed in the first centuries of Christianity are found in the traditions of Palestinian Christians, which say that the holy Empress Helen built a church in honour of the entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. Saint Gregory of Nyssa, in the fourth century, also mentions this Feast, along with Saints Jerome and Epiphanius. Saint Andrew of Crete had known about it and his hymns are found throughout the Service books for this Feast. Saint Germanos I, Patriarch of Constantinople from 715 to 730, wrote two homilies for the Feast. Saint Tarasios, the Patriarch, introduced it at Constantinople a century later as an official Feast, though it had already been celebrated. Saint George of Nicomedia wrote three sermons on the subject which address every detail of the Feast, including a beautiful homily which addresses rhetorically the temple itself.

The festival blossomed forth from the Tradition of the Church, which made use of the second century apocryphal source, the Protoevangelium, in order to emphasize the fulfilment of the economy of the Creator and the self-consecration of the chosen Virgin to a life in the service of God. The Church breaks the silence of the canonical Gospels that we may behold the incomprehensible ways of Providence which prepare mary, the receptacle of the Word and the Mother predetermined before the ages. She who was preached by the prophets is now introduced into the Holy of Holies, like a hidden treasure of the glory of God. “God has sanctified all things by her entry and has made godlike the fallen nature of mortal men” (Vespers Sticheron)


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