Who are Mary's parents?
The story of Mary's birth and details about her aging parents,
Joachim and Anne, come from apocryphal writings known as the
Protoevangelium of James the Lesser that was written by an unknown
author. Apocryphal writings are often connected with Scriptural
themes although they are not deemed part of the canon of the
The Rev. Bert Buby, S.M., a Marian scholar at the University of
Dayton, calls the Protoevangelium account "a very imaginative,
creative story about the birth of Mary, written about 150 A.D." In the beginning of the
Protovangelium, Joachim is fasting in the
wilderness and Anne is mourning in her garden, both of them
lamenting their childlessness. An angel appears to Anne, promises
her that she will conceive, and then directs her attention to her
returning husband. Anne and Joachim share a tremendous embrace
indicating their great confidence in God that a child will be
born, and Anne does conceive. They dedicate their daughter, Mary,
to God, keeping her from sin and evil. When she is three years
old, Anne and Joachim present her in the temple, where Mary
dances on the third step of the altar and "all the house of
Israel loved her." Joseph is named as her protector when she
reaches twelve or thirteen years of age. He's chosen as her betrothed after
a sign from God--a dove came out of his staff.
The feast of the Birth of Mary is celebrated on Sept. 8, nine
months after the Immaculate Conception. Joachim and Anne
celebrate their feast day together on July 26. The feast of
Mary's presentation in the temple is celebrated on Nov. 21.
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