And the child was three years old, and Joachim said: Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them take each a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated from the temple of the Lord. And they did so until they went up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest received her, and kissed her, and blessed her, saying: The Lord has magnified your name in all generations. In you, on the last of the days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel. And he set her down upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her. And her parents went down marveling, and praising the Lord God, because the child had not turned back. And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel. ~ Protoevangelium of James
There are three “gospels” which are believed to have heavily influenced today’s memorial—the Protoevangelium of James, the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, and the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary. The earliest of these writings was the Protoevangelium of James (also called the “Apocryphal Gospel of James”), which was most likely written sometime in the second century. It is not considered to be part of the inspired word of God, i.e., the canon of Scripture, because it does not appear to have actually been written by the Apostle James. Nonetheless, like many early Christian documents, this apocryphal gospel held great influence in the early Church. It is from this writing that the Church takes the traditional names of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s parents—Saints Joachim and Anne—since that is the only record of their names we have.
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