Beata: The Entrance of Saint Mary into the Temple

December 10, 2016
By Kassa Nigus


The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church celebrates the Entrance of Saint Mary into the Temple at Jerusalem on Tahisas 3 (December 12) as one of the thirty three feasts of St. Mary in the year. The Feast recognized in the Ethiopian Church as “Be’ata” in Ge’ez language to mean “her entry” to the Temple.


The entrance of our holy Lady the Virgin, Saint Mary into the Temple took place when she was three years old, for she was dedicated to God. Her mother, Hannah, was childless. The women who were in the Temple kept themselves away from her, and she was exceedingly sorry about this and Joachim her husband was an old man.  
Hannah prayed to God fervently and with a repentant heart saying, "If You gives me a fruit, I will devote the child to Your Holy Temple." God answered her prayers and she brought forth this pure saint and called her Mary. She reared her for three years, after which she took her in to the Temple and given to the chief priest of the time, Zacharias to live with the virgins in the Temple. 
At this time, the chief priest Zacharias received her and thought critically what to do in respect of her sustenance so that he gathered the priests to talk about her sustenance.   At a moment the archangel Phanuel appeared to them descending on the space holding of heavenly bread. Then, Zacharias and other priests being prepared one after another to partake the food from the angle supposed as it was to them but the angle ascended back and has not approached to one of them. Later on, when the Child had left alone, the angle descended and fed her covering of his wings.  
Then, she received her sustenance from the hands of the angels, until the time when our Lord Christ came into the world, and was incarnated through her, the elect of all women. Saint Mary dwelt in the sanctuary for 12 years learning the doctrines, commandments and sacred rites. When she had completed 12 years in the sanctuary, the priests took counsel together concerning her, because at this age, they believed that she reached puberty, so that she had to depart from the temple. So that they might entrust her to someone who would protect her, for she was consecrated to God and they were not allowed to keep her in the temple after this age.
Then, Zachariah prayed to God concerning Mary. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him and said, “Zachariah, go forth and gather together all the men and old men, and take their staffs, and write the name of each man upon his staff. Then gather together all the staffs into the Sanctuary, and pray to God; and after this go forth and give unto each man his staff. And the man on whose staff the Lord God shall make a sign to appear is he who is worthy that Mary shall be given unto him to protect.”
In view of that, he gathered 12 righteous men from the house of David of the Tribe of Juda so he might place her with one of them. He took their staffs inside the Sanctuary, and a dove flew up and stood on the staff belonging to Joseph the carpenter who was a righteous man. They knew that this was God’s will.
Accordingly, the priests decided that she was assigned to Joseph as guardian and could take care of her and who would look after her. Joseph took the holy Virgin St. Mary, and she dwelt with him until St Gabriel, the Angel of the Lord, came and announced to her that the Son of God was to be incarnated from her, for the salvation of Adam and his posterity.
                         May Her intercession be with us and glory be to God!
• The Ethiopic Synaxarium on December 12.
• Hiruy Ermiyas 2006 E.C. Mezgebe Tarik part1,  pp.85-86.