This feast day is also known as Candlemas and the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin. It was called Candlemas because a priest blessed beeswax candles for use through the year. It is called Presentation of Jesus at the Temple because it is the day Mary and Joseph took forty-day old Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem. Mary was considered unclean for 40 days after having a baby. This was a law of the Torah. Mary and Joseph were poor so they couldn’t afford to pay for a lamb. Instead, they sacrificed a pair of turtledoves or pigeons. When they took Jesus to the Temple, they met Simeon.
God has promised Simeon he wouldn’t die before getting to see the Messiah. After seeing Jesus Simeon said he could die in peace. Anna was an eighty-four-year-old widow. She never left the temple. She spent her time worshiping in prayer and fasting.
With Anna present, Simeon purified Mary with prayer. Simeon and Anna were older people who were so dedicated to prayer they were able to recognize baby Jesus as the Messiah. Mary and Joseph were amazed at what Simeon said about baby Jesus. Simeon said the child would be the rise and fall of many in Israel and a sword would pierce Mary’s heart.