According to the preserved accounts of Holy Tradition, The Presentation or Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Mother of God happened in the following manner:
The parents of the Virgin Mary, Righteous Joachim and Anna, in praying for a divine solution to their childlessness, gave a vow that if a child were born to them, they would dedicate it to the service of God.
When the Blessed Virgin reached three years of age, her holy parents decided to fulfill their vow. Having gathered together their kinsfolk and acquaintances, and having dressed the Mary in her finest clothes, singing Psalms and with lighted candles in their hands, they carried her to the Jerusalem Temple. There Zacharias the priest (father of the Forerunner John) and others of the priests of the Temple met the maiden of God.
In the Temple, the stairway led up fifteen high steps. The Child Mary, it seemed, could not herself make it up this stairway. But just as they placed her on the first step, strengthened by the power of God, she quickly made it up over the remaining steps and ascended to the highest.
Then the high-priest, through an inspiration from above, led Mary into the Holy of Holies, where only the high-priest entered one time a year with a purifying sacrifice of blood. Therefore all those present in the Temple were astonished at this most unusual occurrence.
As St. Theophylact writes:
“At that time, the High Priest was in ecstasy, filled with the Spirit of God, and understood that the maiden was the dwelling place of divine grace and more worthy then he to stand always before God’s countenance. He remembered that the Law commended the Ark be placed in the Holy of Holies and straightway perceived that this ordinance pertained to the maiden.”
Righteous Joachim and Anna, having entrusted their Child to the will of the Heavenly Father, returned home. The Blessed Virgin remained in the dwelling for the virgins consecrated to God, situated near the Temple.
The earthly life of the Mother of God from the time of her infancy to the time of her assumption to heaven is shrouded in deep mystery. Her life at the Jerusalem Temple was also a secret. “If anyone were to ask me, — said St. Jerome, — how the Most Holy Virgin spent the time of her youth, — I would answer: that is known to God Himself and the Archangel Gabriel, her constant guardian”.
But in the Church tradition there were preserved accounts, that during the time of the stay of the All-Pure Virgin at the Jerusalem Temple, she grew up in the community of pious virgins, read diligently the Holy Scripture, occupied herself with handcrafts, prayed constantly and grew in love for God. In remembrance of the Presentation, Holy Church from ancient times established a solemn feast day.
It likely originated in Syria where the source text of the Protoevangelium of James was possibly produced in the early 2nd century.
The feast of the Presentation into the Temple of the Most Holy Mother of God — foretells the blessing of God for the human race, the preaching of salvation, the promise of the coming of Christ.
It also shows forth that from henceforth the true Temple of the Living God was no longer made of stones, but was the Blessed Virgin herself, and by extension, all who keep the commandments of Christ. She is truly the Mother of all Christians, and the restoration of blessedness especially to all women who venerate her as the New Eve – the One who reversed the disobedience of her first mother by her holy obedience and submission to the will of God.
St. Gregory of Palamas writes:
“She was led into the Holy of Holies not just once, but was accepted by God to dwell there with Him during Her youth, so that through Her, the Heavenly Abodes might be opened and given for an eternal habitation to those who believe in Her miraculous birthgiving.”
And so we ever quote the Angel Gabriel and St. Elizabeth and pray:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.