The holy and righteous Joachim and Anna are the parents of the Theotokos, the grandparents of Jesus Christ. Their feast day is celebrated on September 9, following the Nativity of the Theotokos; the dormition of St. Anna is commemorated on July 25.
St. Joachim was of the tribe of Judah, and a descendant of King David. St. Anna was the daughter of Matthan the priest, of the tribe of Levi as was Aaron the High Priest. Matthan had three daughters: Mary, Zoia, and Anna. Mary was married in Bethlehem and bore Salome; Zoia was also married in Bethlehem and bore Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Forerunner; and Anna was married in Nazareth to Joachim, and in old age gave birth to the Theotokos.
Sts. Joachim and Anna had been married for fifty years, and were barren. They lived devoutly and quietly, using only a third of their income for themselves and giving a third to the poor and a third to the Temple. Joachim had done this since he was 15-years-old, and God multiplied his flocks, so the couple was well provided for. They longed for a child but remained childless into their old age. When they were in Jerusalem to offer sacrifice to God, the High Priest, Issachar, upbraided Joachim, "You are not worthy to offer sacrifice with those childless hands." Others who had children jostled Joachim, thrusting him back as unworthy. In despair, he consulted the geneological records of the tribes of Israel and discovered every righteous man in the nation had been blessed with children, except him. This caused the aged saint great grief, and he and his wife left with heavy hearts. Then the two of them gave themselves to prayer to God that He would work in them the wonder that He had worked in Abraham and Sarah, and give them a child to comfort their old age.
St. Joachim took his flocks and went to a high mountain, refusing to return home in shame. Meanwhile, St. Anna prayed in her garden. God sent the Archangel Gabriel to each of them, who gave them tidings of the birth of "a daughter most blessed, by whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed, and through whom will come the salvation of the world." Each promised to have their child raised in the Temple as a holy vessel of God. The archangel told St. Joachim to return home, where he would find his wife waiting for him in the city gate. St. Anna he told to wait at the gate. When they saw one another, they embraced, and this image is the traditional icon of their feast.
St. Anna conceived shortly thereafter, and in the ninth month gave birth to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This Conception of the Most Holy Mother of God is celebrated by the Church on December 9 and the Nativity of the Theotokos is celebrated on September 8.
Sts. Joachim and Anna took Mary, at the age of three, to the temple to be dedicated to the service of the Lord, and presented her to the priest Zechariahs. The parents then, after offering up her sacrifice (according to the custom of the time), left the Virgin with other maidens in the apartments of the temple to be brought up therein. The Church commemorates the Presentation of the Theotokos on November 21.
Dormition of the Righteous Anna
During the next seven years, Righteous Anna and Joachim visited Mary often at the temple until they died, leaving her an orphan at age ten. St. Joachim lived for 80 years and Anna for 79, and they both entered into the kingdom of God before the Annunciation to the Most Holy Theotokos. The Dormition feast day of St. Anna is celebrated on July 25.
During the reign of St Justinian the Emperor (527-565), a church was built in honor of St Anna at Deutera. And since St Anna had appeared to his pregnant wife, Emperor Justinian II (685-695; 705-711) restored her church. It was at this time that her body and maphorion (veil) were transferred to Constantinople.
- Let us sing praises to Joachim and Anna,
- the couple honored by God
- (and they are His kinsmen).
- They have borne for us the Maiden
- who in a manner beyond understanding
- gave birth to Him Who though fleshless,
- became the incarnate to save the world.
- With her they intercede for our souls.
Kontakion (Tone 2)
- Anna rejoices, released from her barrenness,
- and nurses her most pure child.
- She calls all people to glorify Him
- Who gave the Virgin Mother to mankind from her womb.
Dormition of the Righteous Anna hymns
Troparion - Tone 4
- Divinely-wise Anna, you carried in your womb the pure Mother of God, who gave life to our Life.
- Therefore, you are now carried joyfully to the inheritance of heaven,
- To the abode of those who rejoice in glory,
- Where you seek forgiveness of sins for those who faithfully honor you, ever blessed one.
Kontakion - Tone 2
- We celebrate the memory of the progenitors of Christ,
- And with faith we ask their help,
- That deliverance from every affliction be granted to those who cry out:
- "Be with us, O God, who in Your good pleasure glorified them."
What the Church knows of the Theotokos’ parents, survives from several sources, primarily the Protoevangelion of James.
- The Holy & Righteous Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna (GOARCH)
- Holy and Righteous Ancestor of God, Joachim, Holy and Righteous Ancestor of God, Anna (OCA)
- Dormition of the Righteous Anna, the Mother of the Most Holy Theotokos (OCA)
- Dormition of St. Anna, mother of the Theotokos (GOARCH)
- Icon of Ss. Joachim and Anna with the Theotokosro:Ioachim şi Ana