A Garner of Saints – Mary the Virgin

statue of the Madonna and Child by Michelangelo, cathedral of Brügge, Belgium; photographed on 7 February 2005 by Elke Wetzig; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Joachim of Galilee of the city of Nazareth of the tribe of Judah married Anna of Bethlehem of the same tribe. And they were both just before God, but for twenty years they had no children, though they vowed that if the Lord gave them issue they would dedicate the child to his service. Now Joachim went up to the feast of the Dedication and entering the temple he desired to offer his oblation at the altar, but Issachar the high priest repelled him because he was childless in Israel. Much confounded by the shame of this reproach Joachim retired to hide himself with the shepherds in their pastures. After he had been there for some time an angel appeared to him in a shining light, and while he was troubled at the vision the angel comforted him, promising that the reproach should be taken away from him, that Anna should bear a child who was to be called Mary, that she should be consecrated to the Lord and would in process of time become the mother of the Saviour of the world. For a sign Joachim was to go to the Golden Gate of Jerusalem and there he would meet Anna, who had been much troubled at his absence. When the angel had said this he departed. About the same time an angel appeared to Anna also, announcing the birth of Mary and giving directions as to the manner in which she should be brought up to be a virgin who should bring forth the Lord Jesus. The angel concluded by telling her to arise and go to the Golden Gate where she should meet her husband, as a sign that all these things would be accomplished. Accordingly both Joachim and Anna left the places where they were, and went to the Golden Gate, where they met. Rejoicing at the visions which they had seen, and praising God, they returned home, and in the course of time Anna conceived and brought forth a daughter whom they called Mary. After three years had expired they brought the Virgin to the temple with offerings. Now there were about the temple at that time fifteen steps, in accordance with the fifteen psalms of Degrees. The parents of the Virgin put her on these stairs, and while they were changing their travel-stained garments to put on others which were neat and clean, the child went up all the stairs as if she had been of full age, much to the amazement of all. Her parents having offered their sacrifice returned home, leaving her with the other virgins in the temple, to be brought up there. And she grew in grace having conversation with the angels, so that no evil thing could be urged against her. After some years the high priest ordained that all virgins settled in the temple, who were of proper age, should endeavour to be married. To this the other virgins readily agreed, but Mary objected, saying that she had vowed virginity to the Lord. The high priest in his perplexity called together a council of the chief men, and after they had prayed there came a voice from the ark directing that in accordance with the prophecy of Isaiah all the men of the house of David who were not married should bring their rods to the altar, and one of the rods would bud and the Spirit of the Lord should descend upon it, and the owner of that rod should espouse Mary the virgin. Among the rest there was a man named Joseph, far advanced in years, who drew back his rod when the others presented theirs. So when nothing appeared agreeable to the heavenly voice the high priest consulted God again, and learned that the only person who had not brought his rod was he to whom the Virgin must be betrothed. Thus Joseph was betrayed, and as soon as he had brought his rod, it budded, and the Spirit descended upon it in the form of a dove. So Joseph and Mary were betrothed, but the other suitors broke their rods in their wrath, and one of them, a youth of noble lineage named Agabus, fled to Mount Carmel and became an anchorite there. After the espousal Joseph returned to Bethlehem to put his house in order, but Mary with five other virgins, her companions, went home to her parents at Nazareth. From this point the artists follow the events as narrated in the Gospel, up to the time of the Crucifixion. After the dispersion of the Apostles the Virgin is said to have dwelt in her house beside Mount Zion, visiting all the spots over which the Saviour had passed; and she lived for twentyfour years after the Ascension. On a certain day, as she was earnestly longing for her son, the angel Michael appeared before her, and after saluting her told her that he had been sent by Christ to tell her that after three days she should depart from the flesh and go to reign with him for ever. And he gave her a branch of palm from Paradise, to be carried before her bier. Then Mary gave thanks to God, and asked that the Apostles might be present to see her die, and that she might not behold Satan in the hour of death. Now the stem of the palm branch was green but its leaves were like the morning star. While John was preaching at Ephesus he was caught up by a cloud and set down at Mary’s door, and she told him of the vision, beseeching him to take charge of her burial and bear the palm before her. The other apostles were likewise transported to the spot in the same manner. As they regarded each other in astonishment John came out to them, and telling them all he gave them words of cheer. When the Virgin beheld the apostles assembled she praised God, and they sat round her with lights burning and watched until the third day. Towards nightfall Jesus descended with hosts of saints and angels and stood before the couch, while sweet hymns sounded in the air. At midnight Jesus called his mother twice, and her spirit flew joyfully to his arms. Then the apostles, being commanded by God, took the body to the valley of Jehoshaphat to lay it in a new tomb there and watch by it three days. And immediately roses and lilies of the valley surrounded the body, symbolical of the martyrs and of the bands of angels, confessors and virgins. And the apostles saw Mary’s soul taken into heaven and seated on the right hand of Christ, and the body was laid on a bier, the apostles standing round it singing a psalm, in which angels came to join them. And the Lord covered them all with a cloud so that they might be heard but not seen. Then the Jews proposed to bum the body, but when the High Priest endeavoured to overthrow the bier his hand straightway withered, while the rest of the people were smitten with blindness. Peter, however, taking the palm, touched the people, and such of them as believed on the Virgin received their sight. After the three days were accomplished, the Lord appeared with a multitude of angels and raised up Mary, so that she was received, body and soul, into heaven. It is said that the apostle Thomas was not present at the Assumption of the Virgin, and he refused to believe the other apostles when they related what had taken place, until the Virgin in order to convince him unloosed her girdle and let it down to him from Heaven.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Mary the Virgin”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 April 2017. Web. 20 July 2019. <>