Tradition has given the names Joachim and Anne to the parents of Mary from early in the second century. Devotion to St Anne grew in the sixth century and to her husband in the 10th century.
Legend has it that they were childless into old age and that Joachim, who saw this being childless as a rebuke from God, went into the mountains with his sheep and refused to come home. He knew he had kept the Law all his life and he could not understand the reason why he was childless.
Eventually the angel Gabriel appeared to Joachim and told him to go home, that his wife was to bear a child. The angel also appeared to Anne and reassured her. There is a very famous icon in the Eastern Church of the "Conception of the Theotokos" or the mother of God.
In today's office of readings we read, "Oh, blessed couple, all creation is in your debt. For through you is presented the noblest of gifts to the Creator, a spotless mother, who alone was worthy to bear the child Jesus."