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Apparently the Catholic Church has recognized Joachim and Anne as saints, and it is said that they are the father and mother of the virgin Mary. Is the belief that Joachim and Anne are the parents of Mary dogmatically declared by the Roman Catholic Church?

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The Catholic Church is ambiguous about the very existence of Saints Anne and Joachim. In the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of James, believed to have been written around 150 CE, they are described as the parents of Mary, mother of Jesus and, although the Infancy Gospel of James is non-canonical, this became Christian tradition. However, since the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke name two different fathers for Joseph, theologians since the eighth century have argued that the genealogy in Luke is actually the family tree of Mary, and that Heli is her father, in which case Joachim ceases to exist.

Anne and Joachim are regarded as saints in the Catholic Church although, like all the earliest saints, they were never formally canonised. Anne is the patron saint of Christian mothers and of women in labour, and Joachim is the patron Saint of fathers, grandfathers, grandparents, married couples, cabinet makers and linen traders. Nevertheless, these honours fall short of dogma. The Catholic website, http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=22, states that there is no historical evidence of Anne and Joachim, and any stories about Mary's father and mother come to us through legend and tradition.

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  • Nice question. Nice answer. Is it reasonable to accept that Anne and Joachim were the names of her parents in the absence of other evidence besides Heli? Is there other evidence? – gideon marx Dec 20 '14 at 14:37
  • @gideonmarx The Church at times accepts the testimony of apocryphal books, but at other times declares them to be unreliable and non-canonical. Infancy James was written some two hundred years after the birth of Mary can be presumed, providing information that had never previously be known. My answer is that it is not reasonable to believe this. The distinguished Catholic scholar, Raymond E. Brown also dismisses the historicity of Heli ('An Introduction to the New Testament', p236) – Dick Harfield Dec 20 '14 at 20:06
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Starting of with a definition

In my answer to What is the difference between a dogma, a doctrine, an infallible statement, an ex cathedra statement, etc.?, Dogmas are revealed truths which have been formally defined or proposed by the Church.

Answer

Saints Anne & Joachim as parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose Memorial is on July 26 in the Church's liturgical calender, has NOT been formally defined or proposed by the Church and is therefore NOT a Catholic dogma.


The section Her parents in this article The Blessed Virgin Mary | New Advent, interestingly says that a few commentators adhere to a view of St. Luke's genealogy which implies that Jesus is the Son of Heli through Mary. The section continues

the name of Mary's father, Heli, agrees with the name given to Our Lady's father in a tradition founded upon the report of the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal Gospel which dates from the end of the second century. According to this document the parents of Mary are Joachim and Anna.

The said section then makes an interesting connection

Now, the name Joachim is only a variation of Heli or Eliachim, substituting one Divine name (Yahweh) for the other (Eli, Elohim).


Concluding

Does the Church teach that Mary's parents are Ss. Joachim and Anne? Yes!

Does the Catholic Church teach as a Catholic dogma, that Mary's parents are Ss. Joachim and Anne? No!


Further reading

Saints Anne & Joachim | USCCB.

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