There is not much we know about Mary’s parents since their names do not even appear in Sacred Scripture. Tradition has placed their names as Saint Ann and Saint Joachim. What information we can retrieve is from an apocryphal source. Apocryphal sources are numerous, and they fill in much detail that is not in the four Gospels. However, since they are not part of the Sacred Canon of Scripture, they are considered only legends. Nevertheless, the Proto-evangelium of Saint James which was written in 165 AD states that Mary’s birth was miraculous because her parents were sterile, and that an angel predicted her birth to Mary’s father Joachim after he had fasted for forty days in the desert.
Often, statues that depict Saint Ann show her as an elderly woman, which would fit the legend of them being in advanced years. Statues also depict Mary as a little girl with a book open, standing next to her mother. Ann is always pointing to the book to show that she was a teacher to her daughter in religious and secular studies. Joachim is portrayed by himself and is also elderly.
What we can glean from the Gospels about Ann and Joachim is from their daughter, Mary. As the old axiom says, “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” Mary was extremely devout in her beliefs. Though she did not understand how she would become pregnant without the assistance of a human father (“How can this be since I know not man?”), nevertheless, Mary trusted in God (“Be it done unto me according to your word”) and the Angel Gabriel then reassured her that she would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit. She, along with her chaste husband, Saint Joseph, brought Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem as was customary. She was family oriented. She went to help her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with Saint John the Baptist. Based on all these things, we can say that Saint Ann and Saint Joachim must have been deeply religious and a close-knit family.
In French Canada there is a famous shrine to Saint Ann in Beaupre. The Shrine of Saint Ann de Beaupre attracts thousands of visitors annually. They come on pilgrimage to pray and to be renewed in the Lord. Often, people come with a request or seeking a miracle from Almighty God through the intercession of Saint Ann. Those whose prayers are granted often leave an article, such as crutches or wheelchairs that they no longer need because God has worked through Saint Ann and performed a miracle to cure them from their maladies.
On her feast day, July 26, over one hundred thousand people attend the special Mass in honor of Saint Ann. The day usually concludes with a candlelight procession and recitation of the Holy Rosary.