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The Church of St. Anne The New Testament says nothing about the birthplace of Mary, however an ancient tradition recorded in the apocryphal Gospel of James which dates from around AD 150, places the house of her parents, Anne and Joachim, close to the temple. Apocryphal Gospel of James 4:1-10.

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Apocryphal Gospel of James 4:1-10

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The Church of St. AnneThe New Testament says nothing about the birthplace of Mary, however an ancient tradition recorded in the apocryphal Gospel of James which dates from around AD 150, places the house of her parents, Anne and Joachim, close to the temple

Apocryphal Gospel of James 4:1-10

(1) Suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood in front of her, saying, "Anna, Anna, the Lord God has heard your prayer. You will conceive and give birth and your child will be spoken of everywhere people live.” (2) And Anna said, "As the Lord God lives, whether I give birth to either a male or a female child, I will bring it as an offering to the Lord my God and it will be a servant to him all the days of its life.” (3) Next, two angels came, saying to her, "Look your husband Joachim is coming with his flocks." (4) For an angel of the Lord had gone down to Joachim, saying, "Joachim, Joachim, the Lord God has heard your prayer. Go down from here. Look, your wife Anna has conceived in her womb.” (5) Immediately, Joachim went down and called the shepherds, telling them, "Bring ten lambs without spot or blemish here to me; the ten lambs will be for the Lord God. (6) Bring twelve tender calves; the twelve calves will be for the priests and the elders. (7) And bring one hundred male goats; the one hundred male goats will be for all the people.” (8) Then, Joachim came with his flocks. Anna was standing at the gate. (9) When she saw Joachim coming with his flocks, Anna ran and wrapped herself around his neck, saying, "Now I know that the Lord God has blessed me greatly. See, the widow is no longer a widow and the childless woman has conceived in her womb.” (10) And Joachim rested for the first day he was home.

Apocryphal Gospel of James 5:1-10

(1) The next day, when he was presenting his offerings, he said to himself, "If the Lord God will be reconciled to me, he will make it clear to me with the priest's metal disc." (2) And Joachim presented his offerings and paid attention to the priest's metal disc until he went up to the altar of the Lord. And he saw no sin in it. (3) Joachim said, "Now, I know that the Lord God has been reconciled to me and has sent all my great sins away for me." (4) And having been justified, he departed from the temple and went to his house. (5) And his wife's pregnancy came to term. After nine months, Anna gave birth (6) and she said to the midwife, "What is it?” (7) The midwife said, "A girl.” (8) Anna said, "My soul exalts this day." And she put her baby to bed. (9) After her days were completed, Anna cleansed her menstrual flow (10) and gave her breast to the child and gave her the name Mary.

Text study and discussion

In The Complete Gospels, Ronald Hock divides the Infancy Gospel of James into three parts. In the first eight chapters, there is the story of Mary's own unique birth and childhood, wherein it is related that Anna, Mary's mother, becomes pregnant only after supplication to God. In the second eight chapters, the story starts "with the crisis posed by Mary's becoming a woman and thus her imminent pollution of the temple. The priests resolve the crisis by turning her over to a divinely chosen widower, the carpenter Joseph, who agrees to be her guardian, but refuses to marry her." When Mary becomes pregnant, a priest suspects Joseph and Mary of wrong-doing and put the two to a test, which they pass. In the last eight chapters, we hear of the birth of Jesus with the visit of midwifes, the hiding of Jesus from Herod in a feeding trough, and even the hiding of John from Herod in the hills with his mother Elizabeth. These legends are embellishments upon the stories given in Matthew and Luke. The author claims to be James, the stepbrother of Jesus.

What does this passage reveal about Mary’s parents?

The Church of St. Anne is said to be the best preserved 12th-century Crusader church, erected over the traditional site of the birthplace the Virgin Mary , in the home of her parents Anne and Joachim. The first church was built here in the 4th century by Empress Eudoxia.

Saint Anne's acoustics, designed for Gregorian chant, are so perfect that the church is virtually a musical instrument to be played by the human voice. The church's acoustics are most amazing when used by a soprano or a tenor solo voice.Video

The altar’s bas –relief show the nativity, Jesus descent from the cross and the annunciation, nativity and the Descent from the Cross.Video

Unlike other churches in Jerusalem, St Anne’s was not destroyed after the Muslim conquest in 1189. Instead, it was turned it into an Islamic law school by the sultan Saladin, whose name appears in the Arabic inscription still above the main entrance

Strong lines and thick walls give St Anne’s a fortress-like appearance. Its simple dignity offers a space for prayer and contemplation without distraction. It is also unusually asymmetrical in the detail of its design: Opposite columns do not match, windows are all different sizes, and buttresses differ in thickness and height.

A flight of stone steps descends from the south aisle to the crypt. This cave is the supposed remains of the house of Anne and Joachim, and the Virgin Mary’s birthplace. Here, in a tiny chapel with a domed ceiling, an altar is dedicated to the birth of Mary.

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