The Presentation in the Temple

13th century
Mosaic
Apse, Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

When Jesus is 40 days old his parents take him to the Temple to fulfill the requirement that he be offered to the Lord (Luke 2:22-38; Exodus 13:2,12,; Leviticus 12:1-8). On the left Joseph holds the two doves that will be offered as part of the ritual. In the center Mary hands the Christ Child across the altar to Simeon, whose hands are covered as was the custom in the Byzantine court for those giving or receiving gifts from the Emperor. On the altar is a closed book. On the right, Anna's scroll contains a quotation from a women who speaks in a later part of the Gospel, BEATUS VENTER QUI TE PORTAVIT, "Blessed is the womb that bore thee" (Luke 11:27).

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Photographed at the basilica by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.