Can’t figure out what chapter and verse it is? That’s because it’s not really in the Bible. Saint Anna and Saint Joachim (sometimes spelled “Ioacim”) show up in a separate book called the Protoevangelium of James or, more simply, the Gospel of James.
Not one of the canonical gospels, the Gospel of James is considered apocryphal—not part of the divine revelation, although elements may, in fact, be historical. It was probably written about 145 A.D. and takes a look back into Mary’s and Jesus’ lives, revealing details not found in Scripture. Some of the stories seem unlikely, but others (such as the details regarding the life of Anna and Joachim) have become familiar.
It’s in the Gospel of James that we see the story of Mary’s Presentation at the Temple. From infancy, the story tells us, Anna and Joachim—devout parents grateful that God granted them a child in their later years—dedicated her to God. When she was three years old, Mary’s parents took her to the Temple in Jerusalem, where she would live and learn to serve in the Temple worship. Mary remained in the Temple until she reached puberty, when she was betrothed to Joseph.
* * * *All this is to explain the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which the Church observes on November 21.
The Italian artist Titian, the most prominent 16th century artist in the renowned Venetian school, recreated the story of the Presentation in oils. The painting is displayed in Venice’s Gallerie dell’Accademia.