unto the birds of heaven, for the birds of heaven are fruitful before thee, O Lord....And lo! an angel of the Lord from above spake thus unto her: Anna, Anna! the Lord God hath heard thy cry, and thy seed shall be spoken of over the whole earth. Anna said, As the Lord my God liveth, if a child, either male or female, be born unto me, I will offer it as a gift to the Lord my God, and it will be in his service all the days of its life....And when her full time had come in the ninth month, Anna was delivered....And she gave the breast to the child and called its name Mary.

In an Arabic apocryphal book, called the History of our holy Father the Aged, the Carpenter (Joseph), there is given the following account of Mary as a child. Her parents took her to the Temple when three years old, and she remained there nine years. Then when the Priests saw that the Holy Virgin had grown up, they spoke among themselves, — Let us call a righteous man, one that fears the Lord, to take charge of Mary till the time of her marriage, that she may not remain in the Temple. But before that time when her parents brought her, a new occasion had arisen, of which we read as follows in the Protoevangelium:

The Priest accepted the child, and having kissed and blessed her, spake thus to her:— May the Lord glorify thy name over all the races on the face of the earth. The Lord God will in the latter days manifest to thee the ransom of the house of Israel. And Mary remained like a dove in the Temple of the Lord, and received food at an angel's hand. And when she was twelve years of age, the Priests came together saying: — See now, Mary is twelve years old, and still in the Temple of the Lord; what then shall we do with her?....And behold an angel of the Lord stood beside him and said: — Zacharias; Zacharias! come forth, and bring together all the widowers of thy people, and let each carry his rod, and whom the Lord God


will signify, his wife shall she be. And the criers went over the whole land of Judea, and proclaimed it by the trumpet of the Lord, and all flocked together; and Joseph also carrying his rod hurried to the Synagogue. So having come together, they went to the Priest, who, gathering all their rods, went into the Temple and prayed. Having finished the prayer, he came forth, and gave to each man his rod, but upon none of them was there any mark. Joseph's rod came to him last of all. And lo! a dove came out of the rod, and sat upon Joseph's head. Then the Priest said to him: - Thou hast been chosen to take the Virgin of the Lord; take her therefore under thy protection ....

And Mary, taking a pitcher went forth to fill it with water; and lo! a voice saying, — "Hail thou highly favoured one: the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women." And she looked to the right and to the left to see whence the voice came; trembling she returned to her house, and putting down the pitcher, sat upon her seat ....And lo, the angel of the Lord from over her cried, "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour with the Lord and shalt conceive by his word." Mary hearing it, became anxious in her soul, saying, Am I to conceive, as every woman doth, and bring forth? And the angel said unto her: - "Not thus, Mary, for the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore that Holy Child shall be called the Son of the Highest, and thou shalt call his name JESUS."

Anyone reading the above will see that it gives a close account of Mary's residence in the Holy Temple. We have pretty much the same in other books, such as the following from the Coptic book on the Virgin Mary:

When placed by Hanna in the Temple, Mary was fed there like the doves, as the angels of the Lord brought her food from the heavens. When she worshipped the Lord in the Temple, they did reverence to her, and often brought her fruit from the Tree of Life, which she did eat with cheerfulness.1 .... Mary

1 Coptic History of the Virgin.