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|St. Simeon the Righteous|
|Alexey Yegorov. 1830-40s|
|Venerated in|| Eastern Orthodox Church|
Roman Catholic Church
|Major shrine||Church of St. Simon in Zadar|
|Feast|| February 2|
|Attributes||Depicted as an elderly man, sometimes vested as a Jewish priest, often shown holding the infant Jesus|
Simeon the Righteous (also Simeon the Elder, Simeon Senex, Simeon the God-Receiver, or Holy Simeon) is the "just and devout" man of Jerusalem who, according to , met the Virgin Mary, Joseph, and Jesus as they entered the Temple to fulfill the requirements of the Law of Moses on the fortieth day from Jesus' birth. On taking Jesus into his arms he uttered the prayer Nunc dimittis which is still used liturgically in many Christian churches, and gave a prophecy alluding to the crucifixion. This meeting is commemorated on February 2 as Candlemas or more formally, the Presentation of the Lord, the Meeting of the Lord, or the Purification of the Virgin. His prophecy is used in the context of Our Lady of Sorrows.
According to a tradition in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Simeon had been one of the seventy-two translators of the Septuagint (LXX). As he hesitated over the translation of Isaiah 7:14 "Behold, a virgin shall conceive...", and wondered how this was possible, or even that it might be a copyist's error, an angel appeared to him and told him that the prophecy was correct as it was written, and that he would not die until he had seen its fulfillment with the Christ born of a Virgin. This would make him well over two hundred years old at the time of the meeting described in Luke, and therefore miraculously longeval.
The events in the life of Saint Simeon the Righteous are observed on both 2 February and 3 February. The observances of the first day center around memorializing the act of Mary undergoing an act of ritual purification, and presenting Jesus, her child, to the Temple, a feast day known as the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Since this day focuses more on Jesus and Mary, the observation on February 3 is specific to St. Simeon, who was allowed to die after seeing the Christ (or Messiah) born of a virgin. In Christian tradition, the day of a saint's death is often celebrated as his feast day.
Under Mosaic law, a mother who had given birth to a man-child was considered unclean for seven days; moreover she was to remain for three and thirty days "in the blood of her purification", which makes a total of 40 days. The Christian Feast of the Purification therefore corresponds to the day on which Mary, according to Jewish law (see ), should have attended a ceremony of ritual purification. The Gospel of Luke 2:22–39 relates that Mary was purified according to the religious law, followed by Jesus's presentation in the Jerusalem temple, and this explains the formal names given to the festival.
In the liturgy of Evening prayer in the Anglican communion, tens of millions of Anglicans recite the Nunc dimittis - or sing it in Evensong in the canticle known as the Song of Simeon - almost every single evening. It is also used in the Roman Catholic Compline and Orthodox Vespers. The Nunc dimittis has been set to music by many notable composers, such as Rachmaninoff (All-Night Vigil).
The feast on 2 February is often referred to as Candlemas, as in honor of the ritual purification of the Virgin Mary, candles (of beeswax) which will be used for the entire year are brought into a church and blessed. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Presentation is the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. In the Church of England, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple is a Principal Feast. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is one of the twelve Great Feasts.
This feast day has a number of different names:
- The Meeting of Our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ (Eastern Orthodox Church)
- The Coming of the Son of God into the Temple (Armenian Apostolic Church)
- Feast of the Purification of the Virgin (Eastern Rite Catholic Churches)
- The Presentation of the Lord (Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church)
- The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in The Temple (Episcopal Church of the United States)
- Presentation of Our Lord (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)
- The Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Anglican Church of Canada)
- The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Anglican Church of Canada)
- The Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Church of England and Anglican Church of Australia).
Simeon the Righteous is commemorated in his own right on 3 February. In the Anglican Communion, Simeon is not venerated with a festal observance, and 3 February is set aside to recognize Anskar (801–865), a missionary, Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen and first Bishop in Sweden, 864.
In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Simeon is commemorated with Anna the Prophetess on February 3 on the Feast of the Holy and Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver and Anna the Prophetess.
As mentioned above, the Orthodox Church celebrates St. Simeon on the day after the Feast of the Presentation, that is to say, February 3. However, for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, February 3 falls on February 15 of the modern Gregorian Calendar.
While both the Orthodox Church in the East and Western Christianity agree on the setting of the date of Candlemas on the 40th day after Christmas (in accordance with the Mosaic Law), the difference in the dates for Christmas—25 December in the West and 7 January in the East—results over a theological dispute related to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar over the older Julian Calendar. The Gregorian calendar was developed after the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western Christian churches in 1054. As a result, many Orthodox Christians celebrate St. Simeon's feast day on 15 February.
The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Nativity of Christ on 6 January, and so their celebration of the Presentation, which they call The Coming of the Son of God into the Temple is on February 14.
- Our Lady of Sorrows
- Nunc dimittis otherwise known as the Canticle of Simeon.
- Anna (Bible)
- Baptism of the Lord
- Circumcision of Christ
- Liturgical year
- Presentation of Jesus at the Temple
- Shimon ben Hillel
- Entry for February 3 from the Prologue from Ohrid with a brief hagiography of St. Simeon.
- Icon and hagiography from the website of the Orthodox Church in America.
- "Holy Simeon". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Holy_Simeon.