The Presentation in the Temple


It's not a very big picture and there is no background, but it has the key players in it. As we know from the twelfth chapter of Leviticus, the ritual purification of a mother after childbirth was very essential in Hebrew society. This was yet another inheritance of the Christian Church for, until very recently, there was still a rite for the 'churching of women' in the books of the Roman Rite. According to the prescription in Leviticus, the offering for the sacrifice for a poor mother is a couple of doves, one for a burnt offering and one for a sin offering. These we see in a cage in this picture, in the hand of S. Joseph. The other two characters (aside from the little Baby with the shiny face) we know from the Gospel narrative in the second chapter of the Gospel of S. Luke: the old man S. Simeon, who had been given notice by the Holy Ghost that he would not die before seeing with his own eyes the Salvation of his people; and the lady S. Anna, the old widow, who had consecrated herself to God and now found the same reward as Simeon.