Candlemas

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Celebrated mainly across the European continent this is actually the celebration of two events which took place at the same time and in the same place:

the Presentation of the Christ Child in the Temple and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The day was first celebrated as an event in the life of Jesus, and as described by the Spanish nun Etheria in her Peregrinatio under the name Quadragesima de Epiphania (the fortieth day of Epiphany).

By the 17th century the commemoration of the event was known as the Purification of Mary, and February 2 was the date of its celebration. Pope Sergius I was responsible for the introduction of the procession with candles, from which the feast acquired the name Candlemas.

Like most other Christian feasts, Candlemas was an occasion of greater importance before the Reformation than after. Today it has meaning mostly for the Roman Catholic. Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican churches, who use the day to bless all the candles that will be burned on the altars during the year. In the Chapel of the Quirinal in Rome the Pope officials each year at the candle-blessing ceremony.



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