Holy righteous Anna was the youngest daughter of the priest Matthan, who was descended from the tribe of Levi from the family of Aaron. Her husband, holy righteous Joachim, was from the tribe of Judah, from the house of King David. According to an ancient promise, the Messiah was to come from the line of David. The couple lived in Nazareth of Galilee. Every year they gave two-thirds of their income to the Temple in Jerusalem and to the poor. By a special providence of God, the holy couple had no children until old age. The spouses greatly grieved over this, since childlessness among the Jews was considered a grave misfortune and a punishment from God. The saints fervently prayed for the gift of offspring to them.
On one of the holidays, when the Israelites brought gifts to God in the Jerusalem temple, the high priest, believing that the childless Joachim did not have the blessing of God, refused to accept gifts from him. Saint Joachim was deeply distressed. He turned to the genealogy of the twelve tribes of Israel and made sure that all the righteous men had offspring, including the hundred-year-old Abraham. Without returning home, Saint Joachim went into the wilderness and spent forty days there in strict fasting and prayer, invoking the mercy of God upon himself and washing away his dishonor with bitter tears.
His wife, Saint Anna, considered herself the main culprit of the grief that befell them. One day, seeing a nest with barely fledged chicks among the branches of a laurel tree, she tearfully prayed for the gift of a baby to her, promising to bring a born child as a gift to God. As soon as Saint Anna uttered the words of the vow, the Angel of God announced to her the fulfillment of her prayer and revealed that she would have a daughter named Mary, through whom all the tribes of the world would be blessed. Rejoicing, Saint Anna hurried to the Temple in Jerusalem to give thanks to God and repeat the vow of consecrating the expected baby to Him.
With the same gospel, an angel appeared to Saint Joachim in the wilderness and commanded him to go to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, the holy righteous Anna conceived the Blessed Child and gave birth to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Until the age of three, the Most Holy Mary lived in the house of her parents, and then she was solemnly led by Saints Joachim and Anna to the temple of the Lord, where she was brought up until she came of age.
Soon after the introduction of the Most Holy Theotokos into the temple, the eighty-year-old elder Joachim died. Saint Anna survived him by two years and passed away to the Lord at the age of seventy-nine. The advanced age of the righteous spouses shows that the birth of their Daughter was the action of a special Providence of God. The Church calls Joachim and Anna the Fathers of God, for they were the ancestors of Jesus Christ according to the flesh, and daily at the end of the Divine Service asks for their prayers for the believers leaving the temple.