23. St. Peter and Paul Church, East Harling, East window, Presentation,
Devout Jews and faithful followers of the Law of Moses, Mary and
Joseph take their child to Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord.
The Law dictates the consecration of every male child to be accompanied
by a sacrifice of two turtledoves or pigeons. The figure of Joseph
and his two male companions clearly represent the ceremonial significance
of the scene. Each hold a candle and Joseph carries two doves in
Simeon, the figure wearing the red mantle and holding baby Jesus,
was designated to perform this custom of the Law (Luke 2: 21-38).
Recognizing the child as the Messiah whom the Holy Spirit had promised
Simeon he would encounter before death, he calls the baby “Master” and
blesses the parents looking on in amazement. Assuring Mary and Joseph
that their son is destined to redeem the people of Israel, Simeon holds
the child who leaves Mary’s arms for the first time in the sequence.
Although both parents are present, Mary is placed in the front and central
portion of the scene, while Joseph stands behind her. Baby Jesus,
out of his mother’s protective grasp, has his head turned fully around
to look at his mother. The intimate connection between mother and
child, although physically altered, is still visibly apparent.