Lucia from the Jerusalem community writes the story of Saints Simeon and Anne, who received Jesus when his parents brought him to the Temple. Their feast is celebrated the day after the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.

The Gospel according to Saint Luke, in chapter 2, tells how Mary and Joseph come together with the baby Jesus, to the Temple of Jerusalem in order to accomplish the prescribed commandments. There are received by two elderly figures, Simeon and Anne. These figures are symbolic and it is worthwhile to get to know them better.

About Simeon, "the receiver of God", Luke only tells us the following: "Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him" (Luke 2:25). The absence of detail is filled in with legends particularly tied to what the next verse of the Gospel says: "It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Messiah" (Luke 2:26). A kind of "Christian midrash" makes its appearance as it becomes necessary to explain how this revelation took place. According to this legend: Simeon, originally from Egypt, was one of the seventy sages who were assembled by King Ptolemy II Philadelphos (285 – 246 BC) in order that they translate the Jewish Bible into Greek (what is known as the Septuagint). When he was translating Isaiah, he arrived at the verse: "Look, the virgin (according to the Greek text) is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14) and he was full of doubt, thinking that there was an error in the text. He was about to correct the text by replacing the word "virgin" for the word "woman". Suddenly an angel appeared, stopping his hand, and said to him: "Believe what is written and you will see it accomplished; you will not die until you see the one who will be born of a virgin – the Messiah of the Lord". From that moment, Simeon waited for the fulfillment of the prophecy.


It was not however to be accomplished very soon… However, one day, when he was already 360 years old, "guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the Temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: "Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;  30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel" (Luke 2:27-32). Having recognized, by means of the Holy Spirit, that this ordinary looking baby was the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, Simeon blessed Joseph and Mary and he said to Mary: "This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed -- and a sword will pierce your own soul too" (Luke 2:34-35).
According to this legend, some days later, Simeon passed away. In the 6th century his relics were transferred to Constantinople where they were preserved in the Church of Saint James, built by Emperor Justinian. According to the witness of pilgrims, these relics were venerated there until the 13th century.

Clearly, the legend of Simeon has a symbolic character and does not pretend to be historical truth. Even though certain Church Fathers rejected the story it maintained its popular character.

According to another tradition, Simeon was the son of Hillel and the father of Gamaliel, the same Gamaliel at whose feet Saul of Tarsus, the future Apostle Paul received his formation (Acts 22:30). However, the more conservative tradition simply tells us that Simeon was neither priest nor Pharisee but simply an old pious and just man, aged 112 who was waiting, like so many others, for "the consolation of Israel".

"There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came" (Luke 2:36-38).

Christian tradition has not embroidered legends around Anne but that does not make her less mysterious and symbolic.

The Gospel insists that she is of the tribe of Asher. Yet, at that time only the Levites knew precisely their tribal descent and perhaps to some degree those descended from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The other genealogies had been lost without hope of retrieval. As for the tribe of Asher, it was one of the 10 lost tribes, the traces of which had been lost after the fall of the Northern Kingdom and the subsequent deportation of the Israelites to Assyria (in the 8th century BC). In addition, she is called a prophetess when, according to Jewish tradition, prophecy had ceased some time in the middle of the fifth century BC. What is a prophetess from the tribe of Asher doing there hundreds of years later? Well, apparently the same thing that "a daughter of Asher" was doing at the time of the Exodus from Egypt. She had descended into Egypt together with the house of Jacob and was still there 400 years later when the people left Egypt (cf. Genesis 46:17 and Numbers 26:46). According to a Jewish midrash, it was this daughter of Asher who was the unique survivor of the generation of the Fathers, who guarded the secret of how to recognize the one who would come to liberate the people from slavery in Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land. Likewise, Anne the prophetess, daughter of the tribe of Asher, was the one to recognize the Messiah of Israel and she came "and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem" (Luke 2:38).

Simeon and Anne are an image of Israel ardently longing for the Messiah who they finally find.