It is with great pleasure that we place in the hands of the faithful our book dedicated to the Mother of Christ.
In this book we examine how she was brought up, how she lived in society, the details of her spiritual life, etc.
Our primary source is the Protoevangelium of Saint James. In short, Saint James, the "brother" of our Lord (the son of Joseph by his wife Salome), wrote a book entitled The Protoevangelium. In this book he talks about his father, Joseph, the Virgin Mary and her parents.
This is a work that dates back to the first century A.D., that is, to the time when the Mother of Christ our God was still alive thus, it is a work of great importance.
This book was not included in the New Testament, but that is not to say that it should be rejected. Both of the Epistles of Saint Clement were originally in the canon of the New Testament (see Canon 85 of the Holy Apostles). Later, however, they were set "outside the canon". Does that mean that these epistles are now ready for the "recycle bin?"
It may be that the Protoevangelium wasn't an inspired text on the level of the Holy Gospels, but it still gives a great deal of information about the Mother of God; information which the Church acknowledges to be genuine, such as:
Her parents, Saints Joachim and Anna, were childless for many years.
The services and hymns for the feast of The Conception of the Mother of God by Saint Anna (December 9), the feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God (September 8), and the feast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple (November 21) are all based on the Protoevangelium.
Even some of the hymns and verses for the Christmas service are drawn from this book.
In this book we have drawn upon the same details that the Church took from the Protoevangelium for its hymns and feasts. We have contemplated them and present them here to the glory of the Holy Virgin.
"With radiant beams, Most Holy Lady,
Mother of God, enlighten my mind,
held fast in the dire darkness of ignorance,
so that by divine illumination
I may declare your majesty, Ever-Virgin."
(Ode 9, Matins, 17 April)