By tradition, Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the parents of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. All of our information concerning these saints is derived from apocryphal literature - namely, the Protoevangelium of James, purported to have been written by James, the younger brother of Jesus, and dating to about A.D. 150.
According to legend, in Nazareth there lived a wealthy and pious couple named Joachim and Anne. They were childless. On a feast day, Joachim was denied entrance to the Temple under the pretext that men without offspring were not worthy to make sacrifices before the Lord. In his grief, Joachim did not return home, but instead went into the mountains to pray and ask God for a child. Learning the reason for her husband's prolonged absence from home, Anne begged God for a child and promised to dedicate any offspring she and Joachim were gifted with to the service of the Lord.
An angel appeared to Joachim and Anne, assured them God had heard their prayers, and instructed the couple to reunite at the Golden Gate of the Temple. Anne became pregnant with Mary, who was formally dedicated to God's service in a Temple ceremony when she reached three years of age.
Meeting at the Golden Gate - Giotto de Bondone, c.1305
Presentation of Mary at the Temple - V. Carpaccio, (1450-1525)
In the Orient, the following of Saint Anne can be traced to the fourth century, when Justinian I dedicated a church to her. The bulk of the canon of the Greek Office of Saint Anne was composed by Saint Theophanes in the ninth century, but older parts of the canon are ascribed to Anatolius of Byzantium of the fifth century. The Eastern feast of Saint Anne is celebrated on July 25th, to coincide with the dedication of her first church in Constantinople. The Greeks celebrate a joint feast of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne on September 9th. Saint Anne was not venerated in the Latin Church before the thirteenth century, and her feast is held on July 26th in honor of Joachim and Anne's reunion at the Golden Gate.
Saint Anne is the patroness of housewives, women in labor, cabinet-makers and miners.
Why Do We Honor Her?
Whatever the names and facts of their lives, it was Mary's parents who raised her to be a worthy choice to become the Mother of Jesus. It was their teaching that led her to respond to God's awesome request with, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said" (Luke 1:38), and it was their example which laid the foundation of a woman who could witness her son's crucifixion and never lose faith in the goodness of God.