She is identified with "Mary, the mother of James the Less and Joses" in Mark 15:40, and "Mary, the mother of James and Joseph" in Matthew 27:56. They are held to be the same woman because they are mentioned in exactly the same context, as being among the women present at the crucifixion.
Ancient belief, attested to by a sermon of St. John of Damascus (c. 676-749, was that Anne married once. However, according to a medieval tradition, Anne was also grandmother to five of the twelve apostles: John the Evangelist, James the Greater, James the Less, Simon and Jude. She is said to have married three times, first to Joachim, then to Cleopas, and finally to a man named Solomas, and that each marriage produced one daughter: Mary, mother of Jesus; Mary of Cleopas; and Mary Salomae, respectively. This legend, called the trinubium, has been traced to Haymo, Bishop of Halberstadt (d. 853) in his Historiae Sacrae Epitome.
Anna solet dici tres concepisse Marias, Quas genuere viri Joachim, Cleophas, Salomeque. Has duxere viri Joseph, Alpheus, Zebedeus. Prima parit Christum, Jacobum secunda minorem, Et Joseph justum peperit cum Simone Judam, Tertia majorem Jacobum volucremque Johannem. Jacobus de Voragine, 2.131.
(Anna is usually said to have conceived three Marys, Whom her husbands Joachim, Cleophas, and Salome begot. These [Marys] the men Joseph, Alpheus, and Zebedee took in marriage. The first bore Christ; the second bore James the Less, Joseph the Just, with Simon [and] Jude; The third, James the Greater and the winged John.)
However, the tradition is not reliable: "The renowned Father John of Eck of Ingolstadt, in a sermon on St. Anne (published at Paris in 1579), pretends to know even the names of the parents St. Anne. He calls them Stollanus and Emerentia. He says that St. Anne was born after Stollanus and Emerentia had been childless for twenty years; that St. Joachim died soon after the presentation of Mary in the temple; that St. Anne then married Cleophas, by whom she became the mother of Mary Cleophae (the wife of Alphaeus and mother of the Apostles James the Lesser, Simon and Judas, and of Joseph the Just); after the death of Cleophas she is said to have married Salomas, to whom she bore Maria Salomae (the wife of Zebedaeus and mother of the Apostles John and James the Greater). The same spurious legend is found in the writings of Gerson (Opp. III, 59) and of many others. There arose in the sixteenth century an animated controversy over the marriages of St. Anne, in which Baronius and Bellarmine defended her monogamy." Catholic Encyclopedia.
- "St. Anne" In Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)