This petite Russian Orthodox icon represents Anna and Joachim, both adorned with halos, as they present their three-year-old daughter Maria to the temple. She is escorted to the highly revered High Priest Zacharias by temple virgins. The icon, likely originating from a larger Feast icon, is set in a newer panel.
Joachim and Anna pledged to devote their daughter Maria to the temple as one of its virgins when she reached the age of three, a narrative found in two apocryphal texts. On November 20, 543, the Church of St. Mary was established in Jerusalem by Emperor Justinian. The feast itself, celebrated on November 21, only began to appear in the Orthodox church calendar around the mid-12th century. The depiction of Mary’s journey to the temple slowly gained acceptance in monumental and icon paintings after the iconoclastic controversy in the 9th century and eventually became widely favored during the High Middle Ages. Now, as an episode of God’s salvation plan, the icon of the temple presentation has secured its constant position in the festive series on the iconostasis. The scene portrays the high priest welcoming the young Maria, in the company of her parents and occasionally surprised onlookers.
The icon’s backdrop is gilded.