In Eastern Orthodox tradition, this is one of the days when women named Mary (Μαρία in Greek) and Despoina (Δέσποινα in Greek) celebrate their Name Day. It was celebrated in the East as early as the Sixth Century. It was introduced in the West by the agency of Philippe de Maizieres, envoy of the King of Cyprus to the papal Court of Avignon. He described the festival as celebrated in the East in such glowing colors that Pope Gregory XI introduced it into the Calendar of the Curia.
The feast originated as a result of the dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary the New, built in 543 by the Byzantines under Emperor Justinian I near the site of the ruined Temple in Jerusalem. This basilica was destroyed by the Sassanid Persians under Khosrau II after the Siege of Jerusalem (614). The first documented celebration of the feast in any calendar is the mention of the Εἴσοδος τῆς Παναγίας Θεοτόκου (Entry of the All-Holy Theotokos, i.e., into the Temple) in the Menologion of Basil II, an 11th-century menology of the Eastern Roman (also known as Byzantine) emperor Basil II.
The feast continued to be celebrated throughout the East, was celebrated in the monasteries of Southern Italy by the ninth century, and was introduced into the Papal Chapel in Avignon in 1372 by decree of Pope Gregory XI. The feast was included in the Roman Missal in 1472, but was suppressed by Pope Pius V in 1568. As a result, it did not appear in the Tridentine Calendar. Pope Sixtus V reintroduced it into the Roman Calendar in 1585. Pope Clement VIII made this feast a greater double in 1597.
The feast is associated with an event recounted not in the New Testament, but in the apocryphal Infancy Narrative of James. According to that text, Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, who had been childless, received a heavenly message that they would have a child. In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, they brought her, when still a child, to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God. Later versions of the story (such as theGospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary) tell us that Mary was taken to the Temple at around the age of three in fulfillment of a vow. Tradition held that she was to remain there to be educated in preparation for her role as Mother of God.
Mary was brought by her parents to the Temple at Jerusalem in order that the Rod of Jesse from whence the Flower of Nazareth would blossom should be preserved from all danger In the shadow of the sanctuary. This should be a lesson to all, but especially to parents who cannot guard the innocence of their children more surely than by accustoming them from an early age to prayer and to frequent reception of the sacraments.
Hail, holy Parent, that didst bring forth the King who ruleth Heaven and earth for ever and ever. [P. T. Alleluia, alleluia.] — (Ps. 44. 2). My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak of my works to the King. V.: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Hail, holy Parent, that didst bring forth the King who ruleth Heaven and earth for ever and ever.
God, Who wast pleased that on this day the Blessed Virgin, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, should be presented in the Temple, grant, we beseech Thee, that, by her intercession, we may deserve to be presented in the temple of Thy glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
EPISTLE Eccles. 24. 14-16
Lesson from the Book of Wisdom. From the beginning, and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling place I have ministered before Him. And so was I established in Sion, and in the holy city likewise I rested, and my power was in Jerusalem. And I took root in an honorable people, and in the portion of my God his inheritance, and my abode is in the full assembly of Saints.
Blessed and venerable art thou, O Virgin Mary, who without spot wast found the Mother of the Savior. V. O Virgin Mother of God, He, Whom the whole world can not contain, hath shut Himself within thy womb, becoming man. Alleluia, alleluia. V. Happy art thou, O sacred Virgin Mary, and most worthy of all praise, for out of thee hath risen the sun of justice, Christ, our God. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Luke 11. 27-28
At that time, as Jesus was speaking to the multitudes, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to Him: Blessed is the womb that bore Thee and the paps that gave Thee suck. But He said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Luke 1: 28, 42
Hail, Mary, full of grace: the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
Through Thy mercy, O Lord, and by the intercession of blessed Mary ever Virgin, may this oblation give us prosperity and peace both now and forever. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
PREFACE of the Blessed Virgin Mary
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: and that we should praise and bless, and proclaim Thee, in the Festivity of the Blessed Mary, ever-Virgin: Who also conceived Thine only-begotten Son by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, and the glory of her virginity still abiding, gave forth to the world the everlasting Light, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, and the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with these we entreat Thee that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted while we say with lowly praise:
Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the Son of the Eternal Father..
Having received, O Lord, these helps to our salvation, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may be ever protected by the patronage of blessed Mary ever Virgin, in whose honor we have made these offerings to Thy majesty. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever.