Ha Jolly Ha

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Holy Parents

Last year, I sought out an image of Sts. Joachim and Anne for my older sister. Few artistic representations exist and most of them represent the Meeting at the Golden Gate, a delightful legend which was unfamiliar to me. I soon discovered that the Protoevangelium, one of the apocryphal writings, includes a little known account of Our Lady's parents, birth and upbringing. Over the centuries, a tradition developed around it, and the story even makes an appearance in that famed collection, The Golden Legend. Here is an excerpt:

"Joachim, which was of Galilee of the city of Nazareth, espoused Saint Anne of Bethlehem, and they were both just and without reproach or reprehension in the commandments of our Lord, and divided all their substance in three parts: that one part was for the temple, that other they gave to the poor and pilgrims, and the third was for themselves and their meiny to live with, and thus lived twenty years in marriage without having any lineage. And then they avowed to our Lord that if he sent to them any lineage they should give it to him, for to serve him. For which thing they went every year into Jerusalem in three principal feasts, so that in the feast of Encenia, that was the dedication of the temple, then Joachim went unto Jerusalem with his kindred, and came to the altar with the others and would have offered his offering. And when the priest saw him, he put him apart by great despite, and reproved him because he came to the altar of God, and said to him that it was convenable that a man cursed in the faith should not offer to our Lord, ne he that was barren should be among them that had fruit, as he that had none to the increase of the people of God. And then Joachim, all confused for this thing, durst not go home for shame, because they of his lineage and his neighbours which had heard it should not reprove him. And then he went to his herdmen, and was there long, and then the angel appeared to him only, and comforted him with great clearness, and said to him that he should not doubt ne be afraid of his vision, and said: I am the angel of our Lord sent to thee for to denounce to thee that thy prayers have availed thee and been heard, and thy alms be mounted tofore our Lord. I have seen thy shame and heard the reproach. That thou art barren is to thee no reproach by right, and God is venger of sin and not of nature. And when he closeth the belly or womb, he worketh so that he openeth it after, more marvellously. And the fruit that shall be born shall not be seen to come forth by lechery, but that it be known that it is of the gift of God. The first mother of your people was Sara, and she was barren unto the ninetieth year, and had only Isaac, to whom the benediction of all people was promised. And was not Rachel long barren? And yet had she not after Joseph, that held all the seigniory of Egypt? which was more strong than Samson, and more holy than Samuel? And yet were their mothers barren. Thus mayst thou believe by reason and by ensample that the childings long abiden be wont to be more marvellous. And therefore Anne thy wife shall have a daughter, and thou shalt call her Mary, and she, as ye have avowed, shall be from her infancy sacred unto our Lord, and shall be full of the Holy Ghost sith the time that she shall depart from the womb of her mother, and she shall dwell in the temple of our Lord, and not without, among the other people, because that none evil thing shall be had in suspicion of her, and right as she shall be born of a barren mother, so shall be born of her marvellously the son of a right high Lord. Of whom the name shall be Jesus, and by him shall health be given to all the people. And I give to thee the sign, that when thou shalt come to the golden gate at Jerusalem, thou shalt meet there Anne thy wife, which is much amoved of thy long tarrying, and shall have joy of thy coming. And then the angel, when he had said this, he departed from him. And as when Anne wept bitterly and wist not whither her husband was gone, the same angel appeared to her, and said all that he had said to her husband, and gave to her for a sign that she should go into Jerusalem, to the golden gate, and there she should meet with her husband which was returned. And thus by the commandment of the angel they met, and were firm of the lineage promised, and glad for to see each other, and honoured our Lord and returned home, abiding joyously the promise divine. And Anne conceived and brought forth a daughter, and named her Mary."

May Sts. Joachim and Anne, blessed parents of the Holy Virgin, serve as a model and inspiration for every Christian home!

2 Comments:

Blogger crusader88 said...

Have you ever read Ven. Mary of Jesus' The Mystical City of God? The account of Sts. Anne and Joachim therein is almost exactly the same. I wonder if the writer, a mystic, had read the same apocryphal work. Even if she had not, it adds credibility to the tradition you posted.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Raindear said...

I've read parts of it, but not the part about Joachim and Anne. How interesting!

12:57 PM  

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