The holy and righteous Joachim and Anna and Zechariah and Elizabeth

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Mathew 7:7-8)

There is an ancient Christian tradition where people commissioned icons to be painted, donated jewels and precious stones, or silver or gold icon cases. At the same time they asked the saints to pray to God for them and help them in their time of need. The icon-painting studio of St.Elisabeth Convent will soon begin painting the icon of the holy and righteous Joachim and Anna as well as Saints Zechariah and Elizabeth for one of the churches at the convent. You can help as well by making a small donation and assist with a creation of a beautiful icon. As the icon is being painted, new blog posts will show how the icon is created. The holy and righteous Joachim and Anna as well as Saints Zechariah and Elizabeth are considered a great example of holy families who have lead a pious life and demonstrated patience and love. Here a few facts about the saints:

The holy and righteous Joachim, was the son of Varpafira, who was an ancestor of King David. God promised to King David that the Savior of the world would be born from his descendants. Saint Anna was the daughter of Matthan, who was from the tribe of Levi. They lived in Nazareth for fifty years but did not have any children. They were often laughed at and shamed for not having children. Yet, the blessed couple never complained to God and always humbly accepted their burden, while always praying and relying on God’s providence. Once during a major feast, the high priest but the name of Issachar did not accept the gifts that Joachim brought to him, because a man without an offspring was not worthy to bring gifts to God.

Joachim was heartbroken and upset by this event and having left the city with a feeling that he was a great sinner. He even considered not to come home and remain in a desolate place in the desert. When Saint Anna heard about what happened, she began to fast and pray asking God for help and to give her a child. Joachim was asking for the same thing in the secluded place that he chose. Soon enough, their prayers were answered. God sent the Archangel Gabriel to each of them, who gave them tidings of the birth of "a daughter most blessed, by whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed, and through whom will come the salvation of the world." Each promised to have their child raised in the Temple as a holy vessel of God. The archangel told St. Joachim to return home, where he would find his wife waiting for him in the city gate. St. Anna he told to wait at the gate. When they saw one another, they embraced, and this image is the traditional icon of their feast. Saint Joachim passed away several years after his daughter’s entrance into the temple at the age of 80 while Saint Anna passed away two year after that, and spending her last years at the temple with the Virgin Mary.

                                                                Holy Righteous Anne

Saint Zechariah and Elizabeth

Saint Zechariah and Elizabeth were the parents of St. John the Baptist. They were descendants from the high priest Aaron. Zechariah served as a priest in the Temple in Jerusalem and Saint Elizabeth was Saint Anna’s sister (the mother of the Mother of God). The pious couple was “ righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6) but did not have any children, which was considered as a punishment in the Old Testament. Once an Angel appeared to Zechariah while serving in the temple. He told Zechariah that his wife will give birth to a son who will be “great in the sight of the Lord” (Luke 1:15) and will be”in the spirit and power of Elias” (Luke 1:17). However, Zechariah began to doubt these words because he and his wife were quite of age. He was punished for his lack of faith and was unable to speak until his son was born. When Elizabeth gave birth to their son, she chose the name John, although no one among their family ever had that name. Zechariah confirmed the same name in writing and he was instantly able to speak. According to the Gospel, “Zechariah was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied” (Luke 1: 67) about his son as the forerunner of Christ.

When King Herod heard about the birth of Messiah, he ordered for all children up to 2 years of age to be murdered. He was hoping that Christ would be among them. Herod also knew about the miraculous birth of St. John and wanted to kill him as well, because he thought he might be the next king. However, Elizabeth his herself and the child in the mountains. According to tradition, when she saw the murderers approaching she began to pray to God and the mountains opened up and hid her and St. John the Baptist. In the meantime,Zechariah was serving his term in the temple, when the soldiers sent by Herod to find out from him where the child was hidden. After he refused to tell then he was killed between the temple and the altar (Mathew 23: 35). Saint Elizabeth died forty days after her husband, while St. John remained in the dessert, protected by God until he grew up and his time came to preach repentance and prepare people for Christ.

                                                               Holy Righteous Elizabeth