The Presentation in the Temple

5th century
Triumphal arch, Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

The infant Jesus's parents take him to the Temple for the ritual of Presentation (Luke 2:22-38; Exodus 13:2,12,; Leviticus 12:1-8). Three angels in togas attend as Mary (in the gold-colored garments) prepares to hand the infant Jesus to Simeon, the man on the right who is bowing down and has a cloth on his hands. The acceptance or giving of a gift on cloth-covered hands was a custom in secular courts of the time.

In the center before the angel are a woman and a man. The woman would be the prophetess Anna, the only female other than Mary in Luke's account. The man wears a short tunic which is perhaps meant to signify a lower class than Simeon or the priests behind him. Standing next to Mary as he does, he is probably her husband Joseph.

Halos are accorded to the child and the angels, but not to any of the others.

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Photographed at the basilica by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.