General information

Understanding the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Each year on February 2nd, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It is a day rich in symbolism and deep in tradition. This feast, celebrated forty days after Christmas is also known as Candlemas.

Historical Background

The Feast of the Presentation is rooted in the biblical account from the Gospel of Luke (2:22-40), where Mary and Joseph bring the infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem. This was in accordance with Jewish law, which required purification of the mother after childbirth and the presentation and consecration of the firstborn male to God.

Significance of the Feast

During the presentation in the Temple, Simeon, a righteous and devout man, acknowledged Jesus as the "Light of the World" and prophesied his future role in the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles. Candles are often blessed on this day, or shortly after. The candle symbolises Jesus as the light in the darkness of our world.

Cultural and Liturgical Observances

Candlemas is a day of both religious and cultural significance. In many churches, there is a procession with lit candles, representing the entry of Christ, the Light, into the Temple of God.

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is a beautiful blend of Jewish tradition, Christian fulfilment, and liturgical celebration. It invites us to reflect on the humility of the Holy Family and the recognition of Jesus as the light that guides us. As we celebrate this feast, let us hold our candles high, symbolising our own journey towards Christ, the true light of our lives.

(image by Lawrence Lew, OP)