Mary Taken to the Temple: The West Capital Frieze at Chartres (5)

The apocryphal story of Mary’s childhood* includes her parent’s choice to take and leave her at the Temple where she was to be taught. This series of three sculptures (most of the heads have been destroyed) shows Anna and Joachim discussing their decision, taking Mary, and Mary’s climb up the Temple steps. The story reminds me that big decisions involve, thoughtfulness, time to let things unfold, and great courage.

Mary being taken to the Temple, West Capital Frieze by Jill K H Geoffrion
Joachim and Anne reflecting

My Prayer

God, As big decisions need to be made, may I discover more about my faith, my ability to follow the guidance You provide, and the courage that has been cultivated deep within.

Mary being taken to the Temple, West Capital Frieze by Jill K H Geoffrion

Scriptural Touchstone: 

Happy are those whom you choose and bring near to live in your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy temple. Psalm 65:4 (NRSV)

Mary being taken to the Temple, West Capital Frieze by Jill K H Geoffrion
Mary climbing the step(s) to the Temple

Invitation to Pray:

As you consider an important decision you need to make, what prayers are emerging in your body, mind, heart, and imagination? Pray them now.


Small twelfth-century  sculptures (1145) that line the west wall, just above the doorways at the Chartres Cathedral in France. The scene of the decision and trip to take Mary to the temple is found on the center of the third rounded capital and the fourth rounded capital next to the left central door. You can see it to the left of the photo below.

West Capital Frieze
West capital frieze to the left of the cathedral’s central doorway


*The story of Mary’s parents, Anne and Joachim were told in the Protevangelium of James (an apocryphal gospel written about 145 CE) and the Homilies of the Greek monk Jacobus Kokkinobaphos (12th century). They are found at Chartres in these sculptures and the Life of Mary Window.

Mary being taken to the Temple, Life of Mary Window by Jill K H Geoffrion
Mary and her parents as she is presented at the Temple

Other posts in this series on the sculptures of the west capital frieze:

(1) The Pain of Infertility
(2) Needing To Think These Over
(3) When Things Change
(4) Mary’s Birth (First Bath)

Jill K H Geoffrion

Serving as a contemplative Christian minister and artist by compassionately and creatively inspiring others to seek a deeper relationship with God and a more meaningful life of service.


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