Who is St. Joachim?

St. Joachim

Father of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Anna and Joachim  are the parents of the Virgin Mary. Joachim is a shepherd and lives in Jerusalem, an old priest is married to Anna. The two had no children and were an older couple. One day while Joachim is at work in the fields, an angel appears to him, to announce the birth of a child and even Anna has the same vision. They call their child Mary, which means “loved by God”. Joachim brings his gifts back to the temple: together with the little girl ten lambs, twelve calves and a hundred unblemished goats. Later, Mary is led to the temple to be educated according to the law of Moses. St. Anne is invoked as the protector of pregnant women, who turn to her to obtain from God three great favors: a happy birth, a healthy child and sufficient milk to be able to raise it. She is the patron of many jobs related to her mother’s duties, including laundries and embroiderers.

Etymology: Joachim = God makes strong, from Hebrew Roman

Martyrology: Memory of the saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, whose names are preserved from ancient Christian tradition. In the Holy Scripture it is said that the mother of the prophet Samuel, Anna, in the afflicted sterility that had precluded her the privilege of motherhood, addressed the Lord with ardent prayer and made a vow to consecrate the unborn to the divine service. After obtaining the grace, after having weaned the little Samuel, he brought it to Silo, where the ark of the covenant was kept and gave it to the priest Eli after having offered it to the Lord. Along these lines, the Protovangelo di Giacomo, apocryphal of the second century, traces the story of Joachim  and Anna, parents of the Virgin Mary. The pious wife of Joachim, after long sterility, obtained the birth of Mary from the Lord, who at the age of three brought to the Temple, leaving it to the divine service in fulfillment of the vow made.

The historical foundation, probable even in the discordant apocryphal literature, is however falsely covered with secondary elements, copied from the story of Samuel’s mother. Lacking in the Gospels every reference to the parents of the Virgin, only the apocryphal writings remain, in which it is not impossible to find, among the predominant fantastic elements, some authentic news, gathered from ancient oral traditions. The cult towards the holy parents of the Blessed Virgin is very ancient, especially among the Greeks. In the East, St. Anne was venerated as early as the sixth century and this devotion slowly spread throughout the West from the 10th century to its maximum development in the 15th century. In 1584 the feast of St. Anne was instituted, while St. Joachim was discreetly left on the sidelines, perhaps because of the same discord on his name which is revealed in the apocryphal writings, after the Protovangelo of Giacomo.

In addition to the name of Joachim, the name of Cleophas, Sadoc and Eli is given to the Virgin’s father. The two saints were celebrated separately: St. Anne on July 25th by the Greeks and the next day by the Latins. In 1584 also S. Joachim found space in the liturgical calendar, first on March 20, to go to Sunday in the octave of the Assumption in 1738, then to August 16 in 1913 and to rejoin the holy consort, with the new liturgical calendar, to July 26 . “From the fruits you will know the plant”, says Jesus in the Gospel. We know the flower and the very sweet fruit derived from the old plant: the Virgin, immaculate since conception, she who by divine privilege was exempt from the sin of origin to be the living tabernacle of God made man. From the sanctity of the fruit, from Mary, we deduce the sanctity of her parents, Anna and Joachim .


Author: Piero Bargellini