The Gospels of Matthew and Luke trace Jesus’ genealogy, but neither of them mention the Virgin Mary’s parents by name, nor is there any reference to them elsewhere in the New Testament. A second-century apocryphal (unofficial) writing, the Protoevangelium of James , professes to give an account of Mary’s birth, and it is the source of the names Joachim and Anne. The accuracy of this tradition can be questioned, since many early legends relied more on religious enthusiasm than on historical fact, and since this particular story seems to be deliberately modeled on the Old Testament account of the previously childless Hannah’s bearing of the future prophet Samuel (1 Sm chapter 1).
What can be said is that Mary’s parents, regardless of whether or not their names were actually Joachim and Anne, must have been God-fearing persons who provided an atmosphere which nourished Mary’s perfect love and humility. Joachim and Ann can also be considered the patron saints of grandparents; though they may have never met their grandson Jesus while on earth, they played an important, behind-the-scenes role in preparing for the coming of His Kingdom.
image: Saints Joachim and Anne, Medieval alabaster from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)