Another At Least Quasi-Biblical California Place Name: San Joaquin


At a population of just over 4,000, San Joaquin is Fresno County’s smallest city. Created in 1850, San Joaquin County, with a population of some 650,000 is one of California’s original counties.

Both are named after Saint Joachim, supposedly the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Neither Joachim nor his wife Anne  — also a saint — are mentioned in the Bible. They first surface in the Protoevangelium of James, whose author purports to be James the Just – sometimes called James the Lesser — the first Bishop of Jerusalem.

While there was a James the Just who died in 62 AD who was the first bishop of Jerusalem, scholars believe the document first mentioning St. Joachim and St. Anne was written around at least 200 AD.

Protoevangeliums are purported gospels that attempt to fill in the blanks of Jesus’ childhood.

According to “James,” Joachim is rich and religious, tithing regularly to the temple.  He is older. His wife Anne is barren. Her inability to have a child is seen as a punishment by God.

Joachim goes to the desert, does penance and fasts.

An angel comes to him promising a child for he and his bride. He returns home to Jerusalem and embraces Anne who is waiting for him at the gate.

Anne tells him an angel appeared to her and said the same thing.

And so Mary is conceived.

As a result of this story, it used to be believed that a child born of a previously childless  elderly mother was destined for some important purpose.

Joachim is the patron saint of fathers, grandfathers, grandparents, married couples, cabinetmakers and linen traders. He is depicted as an elderly man, usually with Anne.



Filed under: California History

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment