Presentation of the Theotokos



  1. Students should be able to describe the icon and tell the story.
  2. Students should know the date of the feast, November 21.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. The icon: Use it to see how much the students already know? Who are the characters? (Mary, Joachim, Anna, and the high priest Zachariah).


  1. Review the story:


Several of the early Christian writings of Syria tell us that Mary, the

Theotokos was brought to the Temple at age three to be educated, in fulfillment of a vow made by her parents, Joachim and Anna. Remember the story of the Nativity of the Theotokos – how Joachim and Anna had prayed for the birth of their daughter?  The feast was instituted in the late 4th century.

            Mary and her parents approach the Temple in joy, accompanied by Mary’s small friends.  Zachariah and the Temple virgins meet her in the Temple courtyard.  The Temple is divided into three sections: the outer porch or courtyard, the Holy or nave where only Jews can come to pray and worship, and the Holy of Holies, behind a curtain, where only the high priest can enter, and he only once a year on the Day of Atonement.  But, little Mary climbs directly up the steps and into the Holy of Holies, astounding all the people and even the angels.

            Mary stayed at the Temple and grew up there, studying and worshipping.  She left the Temple at about the age of 15, when she returned to Nazareth and was betrothed to Joseph.


Discussion questions: Where in the Bible is this account found? (Nowhere, but in ancient Church tradition and the Apocrypha.) Why do we believe that which is not in the Bible? (It is part of the living Tradition of the Church’s memory.) Why do Mary’s parents bring her to the Temple?  If they love her so much, why give her up? (Similar situation: Hannah and Samuel in I Samuel 1:9-28)


  1. Have students read aloud in turn the readings for the feast:

Gospel: Luke 10:38-11:28

Epistle: Hebrews 9:1-7

Old Testament: Exodus 40:1-5, 9-11, 16, 34-35; I Kings 8:1-11; Ezekiel 43:27-44:4


  1. Songs of the Feast:

Troparion: Today the Virgin is the foreshadowing of the pleasure of God, and the beginning of the preaching of the salvation of mankind.  Thou hast appeared in the Temple of God openly and hast gone before, preaching Christ to all.  Let us shout with one thrilling voice, saying, Rejoice, O thou who art the fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation.

Kontakion: The all-pure temple of the Savior, the most precious bridal-chamber and Virgin, the treasure-house of the glory of God, today entered the Temple of the Lord, bringing with her the grace which is in the divine Spirit: whom also the angels of God do celebrate in song; for she is the heavenly tabernacle.


  1. Discussion questions:

 What was the importance of the Ark of the Covenant to the Jewish people? The Temple? Who built the first Temple? (Solomon)Why didn’t God allow David to build it? Who rebuilt the temple after the captivity? (Zerubabel) Who built the Temple that Mary entered? (Herod, who built a Temple to show the Jews how pious he was and to show the Romans the importance of his reign) When was the Temple destroyed and by whom? (the Romans in 70 AD, fulfilling the prophecies of Christ in Luke 19:43-44)  What is now the true Temple? (the Church, the Body of Christ – I Cor. 6:19)


  1. Make glove puppets to tell the story:

Buy some cheap gloves, even medical

ones will do although cloth is nicer.

Stuff a small cotton ball or pom-pom

in the tip of each finger and tie off,

making a head. Now decorate each

head: Mary, Joachim, Anna,

Zachariah, and a temple virgin.

Use yarn, markers, wiggly eyes,

beads, fabric, lace, felt, etc. When

the glue dries, you can tell the story

of the feast with just your own hand!


8. Make a felt banner: Buy ahead of time a piece of background color felt of your choosing (about 24x36 inches).  Turn down about 1 inch at the top and staple around a coat hanger or dowel. Or use one of the pre-made banners. Have the students design a banner to illustrate the feast – its icon or its theme (the cross), etc. – with the name of the feast somewhere on it. Use the small pieces of felt to cut out figures and letters and glue on. We have felt letters with adhesive for ease in use.  Hang in the Social Hall for all to enjoy!



9. Close with prayer.