Feast of the Conception of the Theotokos by St. Anna

Today is the feast of the conception of the Mother of God by St. Anna. I don’t know how much attention this feast gets, but really, it’s rather important! The genealogy extending back for countless years had been preparing for the birth of Mary, who would be the chosen vessel of Christ.

Mary’s parents were Joachim and Anna. They had remained childless despite fervent prayer and sacrifices in the temple. Nowadays, to be childless is not seen as being “barren”. It’s a condition many people desire and strive for. But in those days, not being blessed with a child meant you weren’t blessed at all. That you had not found favor with God. Joachim was turned away from the temple by elders who said he was not worthy to offer sacrifice with the rest since he had obviously been passed over by God and left childless.

This was heartrending to both Joachim and Anna and even though they had both reached an age at which childbearing had long since passed (Anna especially), they cried out to God to bless them with one child. Just one! Joachim was so humiliated and heartbroken after the episode in the temple that he left the town and fled to the country, weeping.

The angel Gabriel appeared to each of them and told them that through God they would conceive a child who would be blessed above all else. Joachim was told that his wife would be waiting for him at the city gates. Anna was told that her husband would be coming back into town through the city gates and to go wait for him. When they met, they embraced, and each knew what the other must have heard. They returned to their house, spending time in prayer before conceiving Mary.

Troparion, tone 4

Today the bonds of barrenness are broken,
God has heard the prayers of Joachim and Anna.
He has promised them beyond all their hopes,
To bear the Maiden of God
By whom the Uncircumscribed One was born as mortal man,
Who commanded an angel to cry to Her:
Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with You!

(For more information, go here.)

7 thoughts on “Feast of the Conception of the Theotokos by St. Anna

  1. as an Anna myself, I admit I often don't think about this feast, as I usually celebrate on Sept. 9, but last night at vespers it was beautiful to hear the hymns to Anna, and the icon in church was one I don't remember seeing before, lovely!


  2. Thank you for writing this! I have that icon, have seen it many times, and I had no idea that was the story behind the embrace! What a lovely image of a husband and wife, supporting each other through hardship… being attacked from without and finding strength in God and through each others' embrace. Beautiful!


  3. Hey, does this mean today is one of your name's days?? many years!

    I love this feast… I think I often end up missing it as my church is old calendar and my church for Christmas time is new… but regardless the feast is here! 🙂

    I also love this icon; I have in the past given it as a wedding gift…

    They are important Saints to me as well – and to one of my dear friends who waited so long and prayed to them for years to be married and now she is; thank God for His mercy.


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