SAINTS JOACHIM and ANNE (? B.C.-?), parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Today, the universal Church honors Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of our Blessed Mother. The couple’s faith and perseverance brought them through the sorrow of childlessness, to the joy of conceiving and raising the immaculate and sinless woman who would give birth to Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, the Eternal Word made flesh who would save us from our slavery to sin.
The New Testament contains no specific information about the lives of the Virgin Mary’s parents, but other documents outside of the Biblical Canon do provide some details. Although these writings are not considered authoritative in the same manner as the Bible, they outline some of the Church’s traditional beliefs about Joachim, Anne and their daughter, Mary.
The Protoevangelium of James, which was probably put into its final written form in the early second century, describes Mary’s father, Joachim, as a wealthy member of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Joachim was deeply grieved, along with his wife Anne, by their childlessness.
Joachim and Anne began to devote themselves to rigorous prayer and fasting, in isolation from one another and from society. They regarded their inability to conceive a child as a surpassing misfortune, and a sign of shame among the Tribes of Israel. As it turned out, however, they were blessed with a daughter who would one day be known by the entire world as the Theotokos, the Mother of God.
According to the Protoevangelium of James, Mary was dedicated to God at an early age (possibly three years old). It goes on to describe how Mary’s parents, along with the Temple priests, subsequently decided that she would be offered to God as a consecrated virgin for the rest of her life, and enter into a chaste marriage with one who would be just and holy and honor her consecration.
Saint Joachim and Saint Anne have been a part of the Church’s liturgical calendar for many centuries. Devotion to their memory is particularly strong in the Eastern Catholic Churches, where their intercession is invoked by the priest at the end of each Divine Liturgy.
The parents of Mary represent that entire unspoken series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, all the while remaining obscure and fulfilling God’s Divine will quietly and faithfully.
We commemorate their joint feastday on July 26.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saints Joachim and Anne)
“God of our fathers, You gave Saints Joachim and Anne the privilege of being the parents of Mary, the Mother of Your Incarnate Son. May their prayers help us to attain the salvation You have promised to Your people.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”