Friday, 26 July 2013

Ann and Joachim ... a story from the Golden Legends


Here is the story of Ann and Joachim taken from the Golden Legend (or lives of the saints) compiled by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, in 1275.


The Children and Grandchildren of St. Anne

Joachim spoused Anne, which had a sister named Hismeria, and Hismeria had two daughters, named Elizabeth, and Elind. Elizabeth was mother to John Baptist, and Eliud engendered Eminen. And of Eminen came St. Servatius, whose body lieth in Maestricht, upon the river of the Meuse, in the bishopric of Li├Ęge. And Anne had three husbands, Joachim, Cleophas, and Salome; and of the first she had a daughter named Mary, the Mother of God, the which was given to Joseph in marriage, and she childed our Lord Jesu Christ.

And when Joachim was dead, she took Cleophas, the brother of Joseph, and had by him another daughter named Mary also, and she was married to Alpheus.

And Alpheus her husband had by her four sons, that was James the Less, Joseph the Just, otherwise named Barsabee, Simon, and Jude.

Then the second husband being dead, Anne married the third named Salome, and had by him another daughter which yet also was called Mary, and she was married to Zebedee. And this Mary had of Zebedee two sons, that is to wit, James the More [Greater], and John the Evangelist. And hereof be made these verses:

[Anna is commonly said to have conceived three Marys,
Whom she conceived by the men Joachim, Cleophas, and Salome.
These three had for husbands Joseph, Alpheus, and Zebedee.
The first gave birth to Christ. The second gave birth to James the Less,
And Joseph the Just, and Simon and Jude.
The third gave birth to James the Greater and the winged John.]
But it is marvellous for to see how the blessed Virgin Mary might be cousin of Elizabeth as it is tofore said. It is certain that Elizabeth was Zachary's wife, which was of the lineage of Levi, and after the law each ought to wed a wife of his own lineage. And she was of the daughters of Aaron, as St. Luke witnesseth, and Anne was of Bethlehem, as St. Jerome saith, and was of the tribe of Judah. And then they of the line of Levi wedded wives of the line of Judah, so that the line royal and the line of the priests were always joined together by cousinage. So that as Bede saith: This cousinage might be made sith [after] the first time, and thus to be nourished from lineage to lineage, and thus should it be certain that the blessed Virgin Mary descended of the royal line, and had cousinage of the priests. And our blessed Lady was of both lineages, and so our Lord would that these two lineages should entresemble together for great mystery. For it appertaineth [is appropriate] that he should be born and offered for us, very God, and very king, and very priest, and should govern his true Christian men fighting in chivalry of this life, and to crown them after their victory, the which thing appeareth of the name of Christ, for Christ is as much to say as anointed. For in the old law there was none anointed but priests and kings, and we be said Christian men of Christ, and be called the lineage chosen of kings and priests.

But because it is said that the men took wives of their lineage only, that was because the distribution of the sorts [i.e., the distribution of land by lot] should not be confounded. For the tribe of Levy had not his sort with the other, and therefore might they well marry them with the women of that tribe or where they would, like as St. Jerome rehearseth in his prologue.

How Anne and Joachim Became Mary’s Parents

When he was a child he had a little book of the history of the nativity of the Virgin Mary, but as he remembered a long time after, he translated it by the prayer [request] of some persons, and found that Joachim, which was of Galilee of the city of Nazareth, espoused St. Anne of Bethlehem, and they were both just and without reproach or reprehension in the commandments of our Lord, and divided all their substance in three parts: that one part was for the temple, that other they gave to the poor and pilgrims, and the third was for themselves and their meiny [household] to live with.

Joachim is Expelled from the Temple

And thus lived twenty years in marriage without having any lineage. And then they avowed to our Lord that if he sent to them any lineage they should give it to him, for to serve him. For which thing they went every year into Jerusalem in three principal feasts, so that in the feast of Encenia, that was the dedication of the temple, then Joachim went unto Jerusalem with his kindred, and came to the altar with the others and would have offered his offering. And when the priest saw him, he put him apart by great despite, and reproved him because he came to the altar of God, and said to him that it was convenable that a man cursed in the faith should not offer to our Lord, ne he that was barren should be among them that had fruit, as he that had none to the increase of the people of God.

He Stays with his Shepherds

And then Joachim, all confused for this thing, durst not go home for shame, because they of his lineage and his neighbours which had heard it should not reprove him. And then he went to his herdmen, and was there long

The Annunciation to Joachim

And then the angel appeared to him only, and comforted him with great clearness, and said to him that he should not doubt [fear] ne be afraid of his vision, and said:

“I am the angel of our Lord sent to thee for to denounce [announce] to thee that thy prayers have availed thee and been heard, and thy alms be mounted tofore our Lord. I have seen thy shame and heard the reproach. That thou art barren is to thee no reproach by right, and God is venger of sin and not of nature. And when he closeth the belly or womb, he worketh so that he openeth it after, more marvellously. And the fruit that shall be born shall not be seen to come forth by lechery, but that it be known that it is of the gift of God.

“The first mother of your people was Sara, and she was barren unto the ninetieth year, and had only Isaac, to whom the benediction of all people was promised. And was not Rachel long barren? And yet had she not after [afterwards] Joseph, that held all the seigniory [lordship] of Egypt? Which was more strong than Samson, and more holy than Samuel? And yet were their mothers barren. Thus mayst thou believe by reason and by ensample that the childings long abiden [births long awaited] be wont to be more marvellous.

“And therefore Anne thy wife shall have a daughter, and thou shalt call her Mary, and she, as ye have avowed [promised], shall be from her infancy sacred unto our Lord, and shall be full of the Holy Ghost sith [after] the time that she shall depart from the womb of her mother, and she shall dwell in the temple of our Lord, and not without, among the other people, because that none evil thing shall be had in suspicion of her, and right as she shall be born of a barren mother, so shall be born of her marvellously the son of a right high Lord. Of whom the name shall be Jesus, and by him shall health be given to all the people.

“And I give to thee the sign, that when thou shalt come to the golden gate at Jerusalem, thou shalt meet there Anne thy wife, which is much amoved of thy long tarrying, and shall have joy of thy coming.”

The Annunciation to Anne

And then the angel, when he had said this, he departed from him. And as when Anne wept bitterly and wist not whither her husband was gone, the same angel appeared to her, and said all that he had said to her husband, and gave to her for a sign that she should go into Jerusalem, to the golden gate, and there she should meet with her husband which was returned. And thus by the commandment of the angel they met, and were firm of the lineage promised, and glad for to see each other, and honoured our Lord and returned home, abiding joyously the promise divine.

Mary’s Birth and Childhood

And Anne conceived and brought forth a daughter, and named her Mary.

And then when she had accomplished the time of three years, and had left sucking, they brought her to the temple with offerings. And there was about the temple, after the fifteen psalms of degrees, fifteen steps or grees [steps] to ascend up to the temple, because the temple was high set. And no body might go to the altar of sacrifices that was without, but by the degrees. And then our Lady was set on the lowest step, and mounted up without any help as she had been of perfect age, and when they had performed their offering, they left their daughter in the temple with the other virgins, and they returned into their place.

And the Virgin Mary profited every day in all holiness, and was visited daily of angels, and had every day divine visions.

Jerome saith in an epistle to Chromatius and to Heliodorus that the blessed Virgin Mary had ordained this custom to herself that, from the morning unto the hour of tierce [from 9 a.m. till noon], she was in orison and prayer, and from tierce unto nones [noon to 3 p.m.] she entended to her work, and from nones she ceased not to pray, till that the angel came and gave to her meat [food].






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