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The Holy Apostle Thomas

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The Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Mother of God     12/4/2013

When the Holy and Most Pure Virgin Mary had reached the age of three, her holy parents Joachim and Anna took her from Nazareth to Jerusalem to consecrate her to the Almighty in order to keep the promise they had made. It took three days from Nazareth to Jerusalem, but as they had set out to God-pleasing endeavour, the journey presented no difficulty to them. Many relatives of Joachim and Anna accompanied them in order to take part in the solemnity, in which also participated invisibly angels of God. First went virgins carrying flaming torches in their hands and the Most Holy Virgin followed with Joachim and Anna by her sides. She was adorned with wonderful royal dress and with jewellery, as befits the royal daughter, the bride of Christ. Behind them followed numerous relatives and friends, all holding burning candles. There were fifteen stairs that led to the entrance of the Temple. Her parents lifted the Most Holy Virgin to the first stair and then she alone run forward to the top, where the High Priest Zacharias, the father of Saint John the Baptist, was waiting for her. The High Priest took her hand and brought her not only into the Temple, but also into the Holy of Holies, where no one was allowed to enter except for the High Priest. Saint Theophilact of Ohrid would write that Zacharias “fell into ecstasy of the nous” when he brought the Holy Virgin into the holiest place in the Temple, behind the second curtain, for otherwise this act of his cannot be explained. On this occasion, the parents of the Most Pure Virgin offered sacrifices to the Lord according to the Law, received blessing from the priest and returned home, leaving the Most Holy Virgin in the Temple. She dwelt in the Temple for the next nine years. Her parents had paid her frequent visits before they departed this world, especially the blessed Anna. When her parents were called to present themselves before God, the Holy Virgin was left orphan and she refused to leave the Temple or marry until the end of her life. As this was against the Law and tradition of the Israel, when she reached the age of twelve she was given to Joseph, a relative of hers from Nazareth, in order to live with him in chastity as his betrothed and seemingly obey the Law. For in those times it was not common for the maidens of Israel to take a vow of chastity until the end of their lives. The Most Holy Virgin Mary was the first maiden to take the vow of chastity and to become an example of the multitudes of young man and women who were to follow.