The event in memory of which a celebration was established was first mentioned in the Protevangelium of James. The pious married couple –Joachim and Anne –did not have children for a long time, which in the Judaical tradition was seen as a sign of sinfulness and disfavour of God. On one of the Judaical festivals Joachim wanted to bring gifts to sacrifice to the gods in the Temple of Jerusalem, but was stopped by a Reuben who said to Joachim that he could not be the first to bring the gifts as he

“ had not raised up seed for Israel”. Upset by it Joachim went to the desert and having settled down in the tent decided to spend 40 days and nights in fasting and praying until “God came down to him”.Anne also gave way to grief which became deeper after the insults hurled at her by her handmaiden named Judith.However, still hopeful, Anne went on praying to God that He would her a child as He had blessed the pious Abraham and Sarah, the progenitors of thr Jewish people.The Angel came and announced to Anne : “ …the Lord heard the prayer and thou shall conceive and bear and thy seed shall be spoken in the world”. In reply Anne promised God to dedicate her child to Him. These events formed the basis of the festival of the Conception of St.Anne of the Holy Virgin and iconography of the Meeting of Joachim and Anne at the Golden Gate (Conception of St.Anne).

The earliest record of the Festival dates back to the canon of St.Andrew of Crete (died in 740), the sermon on this Festival by George Nikomidiysky (1X century) and the homily of John Evbeysky (died around 744).However, as noted by John,the Festival of Conception of St.Anne at his time was not observed everywhere. The Festival Date could have been determined on the basis of the date of birth of the Holy Virgin ( 8th September). In 1166 the Emperor Manuel Comnenus added the Festival to the number of those when it was forbidden to work.

On the icons of Conception of St.Anne Joachim and Anne are depicted full-length,close to each other.Their arms are locked in an embrace, their faces touch each other.From the XV1 century in the composition of the townscape with a view of the city with the gate and the temple there can be a nuptial bed and in the upper part both at the right side and and at the left –scenes of the Annunciation to Anne and to Joachim.This type of version can be seen on the icons of the end of the XV1 century at the Church of Conception of the village Lopasnya (now the town of Chekhov of Moscow Oblast) (the icon is part of the collection of the Andrew Rublev Museum), and of the second half of the XV1 century (the icon in the collection of the Kostroma museum).

The composition of the Conception of the Holy Virgin (meeting of Joachim and Anne at the Golden Gate) occurs in the protevangel cycles with the subject matters of the events preceding the Nativity of the Holy Virgin until the Presentation in the Temple of Our Most Holy Queen: figures in relief on the columns of the ciborium in the church San-Marco in Venice (of the ХШ сеntury, painted on the iconographic pattern of the V1 century) frescoes in the church of Joachim and Anne in Kyzylchukur, the side-altar of Joachim and Anne in the Cathedral of St.Sophia in Kiev (1040-ies), the Cathedral of the Mirozh Monastery in Pskov (1140-ies). In the book miniature Meeting at the Golden Gate is seen in the menology of Basil П (976-1025).In the Russian icon painting the scene of Conception of the Holy Virgin is part of the border scenes of the icons of the Mother of God or festivals of the Nativity; the icons ranked among the most popular in the Russian art of the XV-XV1 centuries.

It is celebrated on the 22nd December (9th December old style).   


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