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Sts. Joaquin (Joachim) and Anne
Feastday: July 26
Flourished: 1st century BCE, Palestine; Western feast day July 26, Eastern feast day July 25
Patron: St. Anne is one of the patron saints of Brittany and Canada and of women in labor; as the grandparents of Jesus, Saints Anne and Joachim are also considered the patron saints of grandparents
Traditional Account And Legends
Information concerning their lives and names is found in the 2nd-century Protevangelium of James (“First Gospel of James”) and the 3rd-century Evangelium de nativitate Mariae (“Gospel of the Nativity of Mary”). According to these noncanonical sources, Anne (Hebrew: Ḥannah) was born in Bethlehem in Judaea. She married Joachim, and, although they shared a wealthy and devout life at Nazareth, they eventually lamented their childlessness. Joachim, reproached at the Temple for his sterility, retreated into the countryside to pray, while Anne, grieved by his disappearance and by her barrenness, solemnly promised God that, if given a child, she would dedicate it to the Lord’s service. Both received the vision of an angel, who announced that Anne would conceive and bear a most wondrous child. The couple rejoiced at the birth of their daughter, whom Anne named Mary. When the child was three years old, Joachim and Anne, in fulfillment of her divine promise, brought Mary to the Temple of Jerusalem, where they left her to be brought up.
The account of their lives startlingly parallels the Old Testament story of the barren Hannah and her conception of Samuel (1 Samuel 1); she also dedicated her child to the service of God.
According to later legends, Joachim died shortly after Mary’s birth, and Anne, encouraged by the Holy Spirit, remarried. Some traditions hold that Anne in her alleged subsequent marriage(s) became the grandmother of the Apostles John and James (sons of Zebedee), Simon, Jude, and James the Less (son of Alphaeus) and also of James, “the Lord’s brother.” Eastern literature on Anne, going back to the 4th century, does not follow the fantastic legends of medieval Western tradition.
According to apocryphal Christian and Islamic tradition, Saint Anne was the mother of Mary and the maternal grandmother of Jesus. Mary's mother is not named in the canonical gospels. In writing, Anne's name and that of her husband Joachim come only from New Testament apocrypha, of which the Gospel of James (written perhaps around 150) seems to be the earliest that mentions them. The mother of Mary is mentioned, but not named, in the Quran.
Saints Joachim (sometimes spelled "Joaquin," pronounced "wal-keem") and Anne, are the parents of the Virgin Mary. There are no mentions of them in the Bible or Gospels, what we know comes from Catholic legend and the Gospel of James, which is an unsanctioned, apocryphal writing form the second century AD. We do know from scholarship that the Gospel of James was not written by James, the Brother of Jesus, despite its claim to be so authored.
Even the early Church fathers expressed skepticism about the Gospel of James in their writings. There are about 150 copies of the ancient manuscript which often have different titles, but tell the same story, that Mary was promised to Joachim and Anne by an angel, was consecrated to God, and she remained a virgin all her life.
Naturally, there is plenty of room for scholarly debate about these saints. We have no true primary sources that prove they even existed, but certainly we can agree that Mary had parents. Likewise, we can agree that.
Mary had good, faithful parents who raised her with a love and devotion to God like none other except Jesus Christ Himself.
Joachim and Anne serve as role models for parents and both deserve to be honored and emulated for their devotion to God and Our Lady Mary, the Mother of God.
The story bears a similarity to that of the birth of Samuel, whose mother Hannah (Hebrew: חַנָּה Ḥannāh "favour, grace"; etymologically the same name as Anne) had also been childless. Although Anne receives little attention in the Latin Church prior to the late 12th century, dedications to Anne in Eastern Christianity occur as early as the 6th century. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Hannah is ascribed the title Forebear of God, and both the Nativity of Mary and the Presentation of Mary are celebrated as two of the twelve Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church. The Dormition of Hannah is also a minor feast in Eastern Christianity. In Lutheran Protestantism, it is held that Martin Luther chose to enter religious life as an Augustinian friar after crying out to St. Anne while endangered by lightning.
Anne (Arabic: حنة, romanized: Ḥannah) is also revered in Islam, recognized as a highly spiritual woman and as the mother of Mary. She is not named in the Quran, where she is referred to as "The wife of Imran". The Qur'an describes her remaining childless until her old age. One day, Hannah saw a bird feeding its young while sitting in the shade of a tree, which awakened her desire to have children of her own. She prayed for a child and eventually conceived; her husband, Imran, died before the child was born. Expecting the child to be male, Hannah vowed to dedicate him to isolation and service in the Second Temple.
However, Hannah bore a daughter instead, and named her Mary. Her words upon delivering Mary reflect her status as a great mystic, realizing that while she had wanted a son, this daughter was God's gift to her:
Then, when she brought forth she said: My Lord! Truly, I brought her forth, a female. And God is greater in knowledge of what she brought forth. And the male is not like the female. ... So her Lord received her with the very best acceptance. And her bringing forth caused the very best to develop in her.[Quran 3:36–37 (Translated by Laleh Bakhtiar)]
Although the canonical books of the New Testament never mention the mother of the Virgin Mary, traditions about her family, childhood, education, and eventual betrothal to Joseph developed very early in the history of the church. The oldest and most influential source for these is the apocryphal Gospel of James, first written in Koine Greek around the middle of the second century AD. In the West, the Gospel of James fell under a cloud in the fourth and fifth centuries when it was accused of "absurdities" by Jerome and condemned as untrustworthy by Pope Damasus I, Pope Innocent I, and Pope Gelasius I.
Ancient belief, attested to by a sermon of John of Damascus, was that Anne married once. In the Late Middle Ages, legend held that Anne was married three times: first to Joachim, then to Clopas and finally to a man named Solomas and that each marriage produced one daughter: Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Salome, respectively. The sister of Saint Anne was Sobe, mother of Elizabeth. In the fifteenth century, the Catholic cleric Johann Eck related in a sermon that St Anne's parents were named Stollanus and Emerentia. The Catholic Encyclopedia (1907) regards this genealogy as spurious.
In the 4th century and then much later in the 15th century, a belief arose that Mary was conceived of Anne without Original sin. This belief was however already implicitly present in the idea of Mary as the New Eve, present in the 2nd century writers St Justin Martyr, St Irenaeus and Tertullian, and arguably also in St Paul (1 Cor.11:12). This belief in the Immaculate Conception states that God preserved Mary's body and soul intact and sinless from her first moment of existence, through the merits of Jesus Christ. The Immaculate Conception, often confused with the Annunciation of the Incarnation (Mary's virgin birth of Jesus), was made dogma in the Catholic church by Pope Pius IX's papal bull, Ineffabilis Deus, in 1854.
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