Catholic Dictionary




The feast that commemorates the purifying of the Blessed Virgin according to the Mosaic Law, forty days after the birth of Christ. Also called the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. The feast was introduced into the Eastern Empire during the reign of Emperor Justinian (527-65) and is mentioned in the Gelasian Sacramentary for the Western Church in the seventh century. Candles are blessed on this day to commemorate Simeon's prophecy about Christ as "a light to enlighten the pagans" (Luke 2:32), and a candlelight procession is held in a church to represent Christ's entry into the Temple of Jerusalem. The popular name is Candlemas Day.