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 Catholic church.

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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This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by Kris Sommers , was last modified Monday, 09/19/2011 16:33:46 EDT by Stephen Malone Jr. . Please send any comments to jroten1@udayton.edu.