February 2

Purification of the Virgin


This feast commemorates events described in Luke 2:22-35: Mary visited the temple in accordance with Jewish law (Leviticus 12:2-8), which held that a woman was not allowed in the temple for 40 days after bearing a son, and then must bring two animals for sacrifice, either a lamb and a dove or two doves, according to her means. 

Joseph and Mary must have been poor, for they brought two doves. They also brought the child Jesus to the temple, where two elderly holy people, Anna and Simeon, recognized him as the promised savior. It was on this occasion that Simeon spoke the beautiful prayer, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." He also foretold the troubled mission of Jesus and warned Mary, "a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also." Because Simeon called the child "a light to enlighten the Gentiles," candles are blessed in today's liturgy, so the celebration became known as Candlemas. In the Spanish-speaking world, it is Candelaria, and Our Lady of Candelaria is a widespread devotion. In the Northern Hemipshere, Candlemas occurs during the dark time of the year when the days are getting longer, and so symbolizes the Light growing in the darkness. It also coincides with one of the four cross-days of pre-Christian custom, equidistant between the winter solstice and spring equinox. In a window in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, East Harling, Norfolk, England (c1470), St. Mary is central, holding her hand over her heart as if hearing St. Simeon's prophecy. St. Joseph holds a taper and the doves (© Raguin/MMK, from Mapping Margery Kempe, www.holycross.edu).   

Since Vatican II, the Catholic Church has called this the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, as the Orthodox churches have since its institution under Justinian in 544. 

In 701, Pope Sergius I introduced it to the Roman church as the Feast of the Purification. Its emphasis came to be Mary's essential purity, rather than her need for ritual purification. After 1000, as the doctrine of Mary's sinless nature took hold, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) gradually took over as the celebration of her purity in the West. The reforms of Vatican II refocused the January 1 feast day on Mary and the February 2 feast on Christ. 

Because it is such an ancient Marian feast day, Candlemas is the occasion of many of her celebrations, including:

bulletNuestra Señora de Belén, Gines, Antigua (Our Lady of Bethlehem)
bulletStella Maris, Mar del Tuyú, La Costa, Buenos Aires, Argentina
bulletNossa Senhora da Luz, Portel, Pará, Brazil (Our Lady of Light)
bulletNossa Senhora dos Navegantes, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil. Procession on land and sea.
bulletVirgen Morena, Güicán, Boyaca, Colombia (Dark Virgin). Romería.
bulletVirgen de la Popa, Trinidad, La Villa, Cuba
bulletVirgen de la Caridad, Mira, Carchi, Ecuador (Virgin of Charity). Fiesta; dances, fireworks.
bulletNuestra Señora del Buen Suceso de la Purificación, Quito, Ecuador (Our Lady of Good Success of the Purification)
bulletNotre-Dame de la Confession, Marseille, France. Procession of Black Virgin from St. Victor's crypt, with green candles.
bulletMarienkapelle, Bad Kissingen, Lower Franconia, Bavaria, Germany (Mary's Chapel). Pilgrimage on following Thursday by towns spared from 1635 plague.
bulletPanaghia Flevariotissa, Hora, Astypalea, Dodecanese, Greece
bulletOur Lady of Candelaria, Pomburpa, North Goa, Goa, India
bulletSanta Maria, Gambolò, Pavia, Lombardy, Italy
bulletMadonna dell'Olivo, Chiavari, Genova, Liguria, Italy. Icon found, 936.
bulletSanta Maria delle Fratte, Castel Baronia, Avellino, Campania, Italy. Festa commemorates icon's finding in 1137. Also Aug. 15.
bulletMadonna del Soccorso, Sciacca, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy (Our Lady of Help)
bulletNuestra Señora de los Remedios, Huajicori, Nayarit, Mexico
bulletVirgen del Favor, Hostotipaquillo, Jalisco, Mexico. Patron of motorcyclists.
bulletVirgen del Sagrario, Tamazula de Gordiano, Jalisco, Mexico (Virgin of the Tabernacle). Patronal fiesta; statue crowned, 1947.
bulletVirgen de la Salud, Colima, Colima, Mexico (Virgin of Health)
bulletVirgen de Tonatico, Tonatico, Mexico, Mexico
bulletVirgen del Socorro, Huanchaco, Trujillo, La Libertad, Peru (Virgin of Help)
bulletVirgen de la Vega, Haro, La Rioja, Spain (Our Lady of the Bottomland). Infants born during the past year are passed under her mantle.
bulletVirgen de la Liena, Murillo de Gállego, Zaragoza, Aragon, Spain
bulletMare de Déu del Blau, Lleida, Lleida, Catalonia, Spain
bulletMare de Déu de l'Ajuda, Barcelona, Spain (Mother of God of Help)
bulletNuestra Señora de Valbón, Valencia de Alcántara, Cáceres, Extremadura, Spain
bulletNuestra Señora de la Oliva, Salteras, Sevilla, Andalucia, Spain
bulletVirgen de la Soledad, Huéscar, Granada, Andalucia, Spain (Virgin of Grief). Statue crowned, 2008. Procession Holy Saturday.
bulletVirgen de La Salud, La Hoya, Lorca, Murcia, Spain (Virgin of Health)

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly