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Was the Virgin Mary fed by angels while in the Temple?

Presentation of Mary Icon

Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 11/20/23

Many Eastern icons depict the Virgin Mary in the Temple, receiving a loaf of bread from an angel.

Among the many legends and stories that surround Mary’s Presentation, an event that does not occur in the Bible, is an account of Mary’s being fed by angels in the Temple.

This can be seen in the upper corner of many Eastern icons that depict this event. Iconographers often show Mary seated under a canopy, receiving a loaf of bread from an angel.

Where did this story come from? Is it found in the Bible?

The story comes from The Protoevangelium of Jamesa text that was revered by early Christians.

The text says, “And Mary was in the Temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel.”

Some traditions even state that it was the Archangel Gabriel who gave her the food.

Most see in this story a simple legend that does not have any historical truth to back it up. On the other hand, the story highlights Mary’s purity and her closeness to God at an early age.

The story in many ways reflect the words of the Our Father: “Give us this day our daily bread.”

The life of Mary remains a mystery as there do not exist many reliable sources that give a historical account of her youth. Even the Bible gives us few stories about her life, highlighting only the most important events in her life.

Yet we know that God looked after her during her entire life, preparing her heart to receive Jesus Christ into her womb.

Virgin Mary
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