Catholic Pocket Dictionary – Purification of the Blessed Virgin

detail of the painting 'The Purification of the Virgin or The Presentation in the Temple' by Luis de Morales, c.1562; Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

The Levitical law declared women unclean for seven days after the birth of a male child; it excluded them from the sanctuary for thirty-three days more; on the fortieth they had to appear in the temple and to offer a lamb one year old for a holocaust and a young pigeon or turtle-dove as a sin-offering. In the case of the poor it was enough to offer two turtle-doves or young pigeons, one as a holocaust and the other as a sin-offering. The Blessed Virgin was not bound by this law, since the child born of her was conceived by the Holy Ghost. But her divine Son subjected Himself to the burdens of the law that He might set His seal to its divine origin, remove occasion of cavil, and leave us an example of humility; and similar motives induced the Virgin herself to undergo the rite of purification. It is this event which the Church celebrates in the feast which bears that name, and is kept for a reason virtually given already on the fortieth day after Christmas, i.e. February 2. However, we turn to the Mass for the day, we find no less prominence given to two other events which were simultaneous with the purification. Candles are blessed and carried in procession to remind us how the holy old man Simeon met our Lord, took Him in his arms, and declared Him the light of the Gentiles and the glory of Israel. Next, in the collect, epistle, and the gospel there are marked references to the fact that our Lord was at the same time presented in the temple before God and redeemed with five pieces of money.

MLA Citation

  • Father James J McGovern. “Purification of the Blessed Virgin”. Catholic Pocket Dictionary, 1906. CatholicSaints.Info. 5 November 2019. Web. 8 March 2021. <>