One of the 24 most important liturgical feasts in the Catholic Church is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to an ancient text, not from the Bible, Mary was born to an aging couple, Joachim and Anna, who were apparently barren. Joachim had been ridiculed for his lack of children and had left home, but was told by an angel of God to return to his wife and unite with her. The birth of the Theotokos – the Greek term for God-bearer, the Mother of God – was therefore the result of normal conjugal relations, giving rise to Christ’s humanity and the redemption of the world.
The Lord’s grandmother Anna is honoured in December, making it nine months before the September Nativity of the Virgin Mary. In the Catholic Church, December 8 is celebrated as St Anna’s Day. Anna and her husband Joachim had been childless, the shame of which had driven Joachim to flee into the desert. Anna cried at home, until an angel of the Lord announced that Joachim would return and they would have a child who would become the Mother of the Redeemer.