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Devotion to the Holy Infant Mary
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The Child Mary with Saint Anne, by Murillo

The New Testament is silent on Mary's birth and childhood; we first see her in the Gospel of Luke as a thirteen-year old girl betrothed to Joseph. But early Christians soon began to write extrabiblical accounts of Mary's early life.

The first of these is called the Protoevangelium of James. It was written around 120 AD, and discusses the events surrounding Mary's birth, childhood and betrothal, as well as embellishing on the biblical account of Jesus' birth.

From this book we learn that Mary's parents were named Joachim and Anne. It also claims that Mary spent her childhood serving in the Temple of Jerusalem. Many of the stories contained in this and similar apocryphal writings influenced Catholic iconography and "mystical" accounts of Mary's life, such as Venerable Mary of Agreda's Mystical City of God and the revelations of Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich.

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