Taken from the book, St Anne, Grandmother of Our Saviour by Frances Parkinson Keyes.
Ancient StoryAccording to the ancient story called the "Gospel of James", Anne the mother of Mary, was born in Bethlehem, where, years later, Jesus would be born. She married Joachim from Nazareth in Galilee. Their marriage was blessed in many ways. They loved each other very much and over the years their love only grew stronger. The couple prospered when they moved to Jerusalem. Joachim, a shepherd who owned a large herd of sheep, was given the task of supplying the temple in Jerusalem with sheep for its sacrifices from his flocks, which grazed in the hills nearby the city. Unfortunately, after twenty years of marriage Ann and Joachim had no children. They prayed and prayed, and even vowed to dedicate to God any child they would have. Year after year they entered the Temple to plead with God for help. But no child came. Once, when Joachim went to the Temple for the feast of Dedication, he overheard someone ridiculing him for not being able to father a child. Stung by the remark, he went out into the hill country near Jerusalem where shepherds tended his flocks and cried to God over his disappointment of so many years.
Angel's MessageAfter 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 Anne 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, Anne, 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, but I have no infant to hold in my arms." Suddenly, the angel of the Lord came to her and said, "Anne, 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, Anne 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. Perhaps the Jewish people then, longing for someone like Moses to lead them from their long slavery to foreigners like the Greeks and the Romans, chose that name for so many of their daughters, hoping that a new Moses would come and find another Miriam at his side. HT