Holy Simeon—You May Let Your Servant Go in Peace!

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” (Luke 2:25)

Alexey Yegorov, “Simeon the Righteous,” c. 1840
Alexey Yegorov, “Simeon the Righteous,” c. 1840 (photo: Public Domain)

Holy Simeon’s story beautifully illustrates the rewards of having patience and trust in the Lord. Simeon, known for his piety and unyielding devotion to God, lived during the time of Jesus’ birth. Luke tells us that Simeon had been blessed with a special promise from the Holy Spirit — that he would not die until his eyes had rested upon the Messiah of Israel. As time went on, he eagerly anticipated that pledged encounter.

Joseph and Mary were devout Jews, conscientious about following the Mosaic Law. According to the regulations written out in Leviticus, Mary waited 40 days after the birth of Jesus and then with Joseph brought the baby to be presented at the Temple in Jerusalem in order to consecrate him to the Lord. Because they were not of great wealth, Mary and Joseph brought two turtledoves (or perhaps pigeons) instead of a yearling lamb as an offering.

Simeon was at the Temple when Jesus, Mary and Joseph arrived. When he met the Holy Family, he gathered the baby Jesus into his arms and somehow knew that this was the One he’d been waiting for. The Holy Spirit stirred his soul, confirming to him that the promise was at that moment being fulfilled. Without a doubt, he was holding Israel’s redeemer.

Simeon, overcome with wonder and awe, fell into heartfelt prayer, expressing a certain readiness for death now that he had indeed seen the Savior of the world. Simeon also included a prophecy: this Savior would be a glory for Israel as well as a light for the Gentiles, thereby opening the doors of salvation to all people.

Mary and Joseph were astonished at Simeon’s prayer. As the holy man blessed the couple, he prophesied about future upheavals for Israel and future sorrows for Mary as the mother of Jesus.


Three Days with Holy Simeon

The Church recognizes this spirit-filled man, Holy Simeon (as well as St. Anna the Prophetess!) on Feb. 3 — creating a nice link to the Feast of the Presentation just one day before. Due to his age and readiness to go to heaven, those with a terminal illness and the elderly might want to claim him as their patron saint. Contemplating his story might prompt a better focus on God as life begins to wind down. Reading, pondering, and maybe jotting down a few thoughts on the passages below can help to get to know Holy Simeon better. If desired, spend three days with this Presentation saint and ask him for his prayerful intercession.

  • Day 1) Luke 2:22–32
  • Day 2) Luke 2:33–35
  • Day 3) Leviticus 12:6–8
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Mississippi River are seen from East St. Louis, Illinois, on June 27. Following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision on June 24, abortion is now banned in Missouri. The nearest clinics to St. Louis are across the river in Illinois, including a Planned Parenthood in Fairview Heights that was opened in 2019 in anticipation of the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

Welcome to Post-Roe America

Every year on the anniversary of Dobbs, Catholics will be able to deepen their understanding of God’s role in the conception of every child, his care for the child’s growth, his knowing each by name, and the future for which he has given each child life.