Presentation of the VirginAccording to the 'Golden Legend', the young Mary, aged three, was taken to the temple by her parents, Joachim and Anna. She was set on the bottom step of the stairway up to the temple and, unaided, mounted to the top. Here she lived with a number of other young girls until her betrothal to Joseph.
Paintings of this scene show a small child, standing on a steep staircase, her aged parents standing anxiously at its foot, and the high priest of the temple at the top waiting to welcome her. A crowd of onlookers is usually included.
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN