This is the Church of St. Anne, a Roman Catholic church located near the Lions’ Gate in the Muslim Quarter of the old city. According to Christian sources, this church is built over the place where Maryam (upon her be peace), the mother of Prophet Isa (upon him be peace) was born. The church is named after Anne (Hannah), her mother, who lived here.
- Her father’s name was Imran ibn Mathan. Her mother’s full name was Hannah bint Faqudh. They were both very religious and held a high status in the eyes of Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He). Hannah was deprived of a child until she reached old age.
- It so happened that once she was seated under the shade of a tree when she saw a bird feeding her little baby. She was moved by this sight, and wept supplicating to Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) for a child of her own. She vowed that if she were to be gifted with one, she would offer the child for the services of the sanctuary, Bayt al-Maqdis.
- She fell pregnant. Her husband, Imran, died before her delivery, therefore Maryam (upon her be peace) was born as a yatim (an orphan). Hannah took good care of her until she grew up, and to fulfill her oath, she offered her to the sanctuary.
- The normal custom was that only males were offered in the service of the Bayt al-Maqdis. However, Maryam (upon her be peace) was accepted. All the worshippers wanted to look after her but Prophet Zakariyya (upon him be peace) was chosen to be her guardian because he was her uncle.
- The present structure of the church was built by the Crusaders in 1140 AD. When the Muslims took over Jerusalem in 1189 AD the church was not destroyed but converted into a madressa (seminary) by Salahuddin Ayyubi called al-Madrasa as-Salahiyya. His name is in the Arabic inscription above the main entrance.
References: The Tafsir of Surah Maryam – Sheik Abdur Raheem Limbada, Wikipedia.