Q. Do we know much about the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary? Are her parents mentioned in the Bible?
A. The names of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s parents are Saints Joachim and Anne. Their names are not mentioned in Sacred Scripture, but pious stories about them have been handed down to the Church.
Some of these stories come from a source called the Gospel of St. James. This Gospel is an apocryphal writing, that is, it has never been considered part of Sacred Scripture, and was not actually written by St. James the Apostle. While it is not considered part of Scripture, it does outline some of the Church’s traditional beliefs about Joachim, Anne and their daughter.
The Gospel of St. James describes Joachim as a wealthy, decent, and respectable member of the 12 Tribes of Israel. However, he and his wife Anne were deeply grieved that they had no children. According to legend, they prayed and fasted that they might be blessed with a child. Joachim knew that God had given Isaac to Abraham and Sarah, and he could bless them, too, with a child.
The blessing that God was to give them far exceeded their expectations when an angel appeared to them and told them that they would give birth to Mary, whom all generations would honor.
These accounts of the lives of Joachim and Anne, and the early life of the Blessed Virgin Mary are not part of the public revelation of Christ, that is, what must be believed by faith. However, the Church does teach that Mary was conceived without Original Sin, in which she was kept in a right relationship with God from the moment of her conception through the merits of her son’s paschal mystery. Mary preserved her perfect union with God as she committed no personal sins throughout her life.
Given the sanctity of Mary as the greatest of all the saints, it would be fitting that her parents, too, were holy people, who instructed her in the ways of the Lord.
Ss. Joachim and Anne are honored in the Church as great role models, demonstrated in their love of the Blessed Virgin Mary and in their trust and devotion to the Lord. They are a reminder to the world of the humanity of Christ, who was almighty and all-powerful, also experienced the tender love and affection of grandparents.
The Memorial of Ss. Joachim and Anne is celebrated on July 26. They are the patron saints of grandparents.
Write to Ask the Register using our online form, or write to 3700 Sheridan Blvd., Suite 10, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to editing. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are urged to take them to their nearest Catholic priest.