Cut From Whole Cloth

15th Century Wood Carving
Meeting of Joachim & Anne

Over the years I have been researching and studying the facts and fantasies of the Roman Catholic Church, I have learned one undeniable fact: a lack of information has never hindered the RCC dreamworks from turning out incredibly detailed histories and biographies of her multitude of demigods. The hagiographies of Saints Joachim and Anne provide excellent examples of how an absolute or near-absolute absence of information can birth mountains of detail when processed in the fertile imaginations of Roman Catholic fantasizers.

In order to make reading this article a true learning experience, I invite the reader to first go to his Bible and search the Gospels the entire New Testament would be even better. Look for some mention of the parents of Mary that identifies them by name. While you're looking through the verses, see if there is any mention of the social status of Mary's folks and where they made their homes. When you discover the biblical (not apocryphal) passage that names these two persons, please post it to this board so that all might benefit from your studies. At least, send me an email so that I might benefit.

Though Mary's parents are not named in the Scriptures, this is but a trivial difficulty for the visionaries of the Roman cult. In Catholic hagiology, Mary's parents not only have names, but we know all about them, just as we know in incredible detail all about Mary. What God did not trouble to provide, Rome has created. The Roman cult has long onsidered the silence of Scripture to be nothing more than an empty canvas upon which to paint anything that fits its unholy purpose.

In the case of Mary, there soon appeared any number of fictional accounts from which to draw imagined details of her life and forebears.

By tradition Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the parents of Mary, the Mother of God. We have no historical evidence, however, of any elements of their lives, including their names. Any stories about Mary's father and mother come to us through legend and tradition. - Saints Joachim and Anne, "Catholic Online Saints and Angels," 2007 Catholic Online

One early source was an apocryphal account that provided a means to link the genealogy in Luke to Mary. A. J. Maas, writing in the Catholic Encyclopedia, hints that this link is a shaky one.

Though few commentators adhere to this view of St. Luke's genealogy, the name of Mary's father, Heli, agrees with the name given to Our Lady's father in a tradition founded upon the report of the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal Gospel which dates from the end of the second century. According to this document the parents of Mary are Joachim and Anna. Now, the name Joachim is only a variation of Heli or Eliachim, substituting one Divine name (Yahweh) for the other (Eli, Elohim). The tradition as to the parents of Mary, found in the Gospel of James, is reproduced by St. John Damascene, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Germanus of Constantinople, pseudo-Epiphan., pseudo-Hilar., and St. Fulbert of Chartres. Some of these writers add that the birth of Mary was obtained by the fervent prayers of Joachim and Anna in their advanced age. As Joachim belonged to the royal family of David, so Anna is supposed to have been a descendant of the priestly family of Aaron; thus Christ the Eternal King and Priest sprang from both a royal and priestly family" - A. J. Maas, The Blessed Virgin Mary, The Catholic Encyclopedia The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV, 1912 by Robert Appleton Company, Online Edition 2007 by Kevin Knight; Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur.

Let's see what we have so far. There is no biblical reference to Mary's birthplace or where she lived. Her parents are not named, unless you subscribe to the above questionable reference to the genealogy in Luke. No problem. We can turn to an apocryphal account that tells us who Mary's parents were. There is no real reason to accept the information obtained from the Protoevangelium of James on its own merit. Conveniently, Catholic hagiographers can find support for these names in the writings of other early writers and Fathers of the Church. The fact that these guys merely repeated what was in the Protoevangelium of James is, apparently, not significant to Catholic hagiographers, theologians, etc. What we have are several sources, all naming Mary's parents as Joachim and Anna, that are actually but echoes of a single unreliable source.

Today's feast is difficult to write about because there is nothing factually known about the parents of Mary, the mother of Jesus. There is an apocryphal writing called the Protoevangelium Jacobi, also known as the Gospel of James. It is a very ancient but historically untrustworthy document written about A.D. 175. However one can neither prove nor disprove the validity of it's story of the birth and early life of Mary. (Sts. Joachim and Anne, Martyrology, 1998 The Monastery of Christ in the Desert)

The story grows. In one of my old books of saints lives, the reader is informed that both Joachim and Anne (spelling of her name goes through many permutations) were of the House of David.

The were both of the house of David, and their lives were wholly occupied in prayer and good works. One thing only was wanting in their union they were childless, and this was held as a bitter misfortune among the Jews. At length, when Anne was an aged woman, Mary was born, the fruit rather of grace that of nature, and the child more of God than of man.- John Gilmary Shea, Ed., Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, Benziger Brothers (1894), pp. 398-99; w/Imprimitur

Both Joachim and Anne were of the house of David? Cool. Oops! Another account claims Joachim was in the Davidic line, but not Anne, who was of the house of Aaron (A. J. Maas, Op. cit). Oh, my! Conflicts. Conflicts. Conflicts. Once again, we see what happens when one relies on the traditions of men for doctrine, rather than the Revelation of God.

Some Catholic writers appear quite willing to acknowledge that there is no reliable information upon which to base an account of the lives of Mary's parents. Sadly, they then seem willing to grab hold of tradition and repeat legends, myths and dreams as though fact.

Although nothing is known about either of them, tradition fills up the story of their lives. Joachim is said to have been born at Nazareth and married Anne when he was still a young man. He was a rich farmer who possessed great herds. Because they had no children for many years, Joachim was publicly mocked--to be childless was considered a punishment for unworthiness. One day the Temple priest even refused Joachim's offering of a lamb. In a last prayer for a child, he withdrew to the desert and fasted for forty days.

Anne's father is said to have been a nomadic Jew named Akar, who brought his wife to Nazareth for their daughter's birth. Anne, too, after her marriage to Joachim, was saddened that God had not blessed them with children. She would weep and pray for God to answer her prayer. One day as she was praying beneath a laurel tree feeling that even Joachim had abandoned her (he was in the desert), an angel is said to have told her that God had heard her prayers. She would have a child who would be praised throughout the world. Anne replied, "As my God lives, if I should conceive either a boy or a girl, the child shall be a gift to my God, serving Him in holiness throughout the whole of its life." - Katherine I. Rabenstein, Joachim and Ann, Parents of Mary, 1998, Katherine I. Rabenstein

Some Roman Catholic hagiographers apparently are not at all bothered that what they set to paper for the edification of the Catholic faithful has no basis in fact. Even though willing to admit, in the case of Mary's parentage, that they have no real information, there is a tendency to press forward, building on silence. Sigh.

For those who wonder what we can learn from people we know nothing about and how we can honor them, we must focus on why they are honored by the church. Whatever their names or the facts of their lives, the truth is that it was the parents of Mary who nurtured Mary, taught her, brought her up to be a worthy Mother of God. It was their teaching that led her to respond to God's request with faith, "Let it be done to me as you will." It was their example of parenting that Mary must have followed as she brought up her own son, Jesus. It was their faith that laid the foundation of courage and strength that allowed her to stand by the cross as her son was crucified and still believe. - Sts. Joachim and Anne, Catholic Online Saints and Angels, 2007 Catholic Online

How can anyone place their trust for eternity in a cult that so often admits that its teachings are based upon someone's fanciful idea of how things should have been or should be? This is not truth. It is fiction. Fable. Lies.

The word of God is truth. Why not read there?


Home | Mariology | Catholic Stuff | PTG Forum