FROM THE PROTOEVANGELIUM OF JAMES
In Nazareth there lived a rich and pious couple, Joachim and Hannah. They were childless. When on a feast day Joachim presented himself to offer sacrifice in the temple, he was repulsed by a certain Ruben, under the pretext that men without offspring were unworthy to be admitted.
Whereupon Joachim, bowed down with grief, did not return home, but went into the mountains to make his plaint to God in solitude. Also Hannah, having learned the reason of the prolonged absence of her husband, cried to the Lord to take away from her the curse of sterility, promising to dedicate her child to the service of God.
Their prayers were heard; an angel came to Hannah and said: "Hannah, the Lord has looked upon thy tears; thou shalt conceive and give birth and the fruit of thy womb shall be blessed by all the world".
The angel made the same promise to Joachim, who returned to his wife. Hannah gave birth to a daughter whom she called Miriam (Mary).
In revelations to the Venerable Sister Maria of Agreda, Our Lady made this known about her parents Anne and Joachim:
They were chaste and just people, they were very religious and studied the Holy Scriptures, they both prayed fervently for the coming of the Messiah.
They got married and lived in Nazareth where they practiced all virtue in their works, making themselves very acceptable and pleasing to the Most High and avoiding all blemish in their doings.
The rents and incomes of their state they divided each year into three parts. The first one they offered to the temple of Jerusalem for the worship of the Lord; the second they distributed to the poor, and the third they retained for the decent sustenance of themselves and family. God augmented their temporal goods on account of their generosity and charity.
They were childless for twenty years and they accepted the Will of God, continuing their prayers for the coming of the Messiah, meanwhile the Lord prepared them for the great job that was ahead, that of being the parents of Her who would be the Mother of the Redeemer.
They promised that if they had a child, they would consecrate it to the service of the temple of Jerusalem.
St. Gabriel the Archangel revealed separately to each one of the them that they would have a daughter whose name would be Mary. He didn't mention anything about her becoming later on the Mother of the Redeemer. He said that the Lord had heard their prayers and took into account their generosity and alms.
After many days there alone, pouring out the sadness in his heart before God, an angel appeared to Joachim in dazzling light. The vision frightened him, but the angel said: "Don't be afraid, I have come to tell you the Lord has heard your prayers. He knows how good you are and He knows your many years of sorrow for having no child. God will give your wife a child just as He did Sarah, the wife of Abraham and Anna, the mother of Samuel. Your wife Ann will bear you a daughter. You shall call Her Mary and dedicate Her to God, for She will be filled with the Holy Spirit from Her mother's womb."
"I will give you a sign", the angel continued. "Go back to Jerusalem. You will meet your wife at the Golden Gate, and your sorrow will be turned into joy."
Meanwhile, Ann, not knowing where her husband had gone, grew anxious and afraid. She, too was hurt that she had no children and felt as though she were being punished by God. Going into the garden, she noticed some sparrows building a nest in a laurel tree, for it was springtime, and she began to cry: "Why was I born O Lord? The birds build nests for their young, yet I have no child of my own. The animals of the earth, the fish of the sea are fruitful, yet I have nothing. The land produces fruit in due season, yet I have no infant to hold in my arms."
Suddenly, the angel of the Lord came to her and said, "Ann, the Lord has heard your prayer. You shall conceive a child whom the whole world will praise. Go to the Golden Gate in Jerusalem and meet your husband there."
So she quickly went to the city gate. The two met there and embraced, and joyfully shared the news the angel had given them. Returning home, Ann conceived and bore a daughter, and called her Mary. Mary was a common name for Jewish women of the time. The name is derived from Miriam, who was the sister of Moses.
BIRTH OF OUR LADY
She was born pure and stainless, beautiful and full of grace, thereby demonstrating, that She was free from the law and the tribute of sin.
Although She was born substantially like other daughters of Adam, yet her birth was accompanied by such circumstances and conditions of Grace, that it was the most wonderful and miraculous birth in all creation and will eternally redound to the praise of Her Maker. At twelve o'clock in the night this divine luminary issued forth, dividing the night of the ancient law and its pristine darkness from the new day of Grace, which now was about to break into dawn.
She was clothed, handled and dressed like other infants, though Her soul dwelt in the Divinity; and She was treated as an infant, though She excelled all mortals and even all the angels in Wisdom. Her mother did not allow Her to be touched by other hands than her own, but She herself wrapped her in swaddling clothes; and in this Saint Anne was not hindered by her present state of childbirth; for she was free from the toils and labors which other mothers usually endure in such circumstances.
At the age of three, the little child was taken to the temple and the parents suffered great sorrow but at the same time joy for fulfilling the vows they had made to the Lord.
The Queen of Heaven, was received by the holy priest Simeon.
The child Mary, when brought to her teacher, knelt in profound humility before her and asked her blessing. She begged to be admitted among those under her direction, obedience and counsel, and asked her kind forbearance in the labor and trouble, which She would occasion. The prophetess Anne, her teacher, received Her with pleasure and said to Her: My daughter, Thou shall find in me a helpful mother and I will take care of Thee and of Thy education with all possible solicitude.
Saint Joachim accepted St. Anne as his spouse at the age of forty six, twenty years later Mary was borne and He died three and a half years later at the age of sixty nine and a half.
St. Anne was espoused to St. Joachim at the age of twenty four and she died when she was forty eight. Both St. Joachim and St. Anne were informed of the dignity of Mary just before they died.
The feast of St. Joachim and St. Anne as pious Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated on July 26.