Joachim and Anna were the parents of the holy Virgin Mary. They were childless, and for this they were derided by their fellow Jews, who believed they must have been cursed. They both devoted themselves to prayer, and they each vowed to dedicate their child to the service of God. He heard their cry, and enabled them to conceive (December 9). Anna gave birth to a daughter, whom they named Mariam, or in English, Mary (September 8).
In fulfillment of the promise, they dedicated her to service in the Temple when she was three years old (November 21). Joachim and Anna visited their daughter often during the next seven years. About the year 8 B.C., when Mary was about 10 years old, her father Joachim reposed at the age of 80. Now widowed, Anna moved from Nazareth to Jerusalem and purchased a tomb for the family in the Garden of Gethsemane. Anna reposed soon after (July 25) at the age of 79, and was buried with her husband. After her Dormition (August 15), Mary was also buried there, until she was raised to life in her glorified body by Christ.
Saints Joachim and Anna are referred to as "the ancestors of God," because they were the grandparents of Christ, Who is the incarnate God. They are venerated as a model for husbands and wives, and often intercede for couples who are unable to have children. So important are these saints as models and intercessors, as well as in the plan of salvation, they are always invoked at the Great Dismissal in Eastern Orthodox services. These righteous spouses are commemorated together on September 9, the day after the Nativity of the Theotokos.
This icon from St. Catherine's Monastery at Mount Sinai also includes a monk in supplication at the bottom.
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