From the piece:
For many centuries, most Christians garnered their information about the birth of Jesus not from the New Testament but from popular writings that were not officially considered Scripture. One of the best known of these books is called the “Proto-Gospel of James,” composed probably in the late second century, a century after the canonical Gospels, and accordingly, far less likely that they contain anything like historically accurate information. But Christians throughout the Middle Ages were rarely interested in historical accuracy; they loved stories and reveled in their meaning, especially stories having anything to do with the appearance of the Son of God in the world.
In many respects the Proto-Gospel of James is driven by a concern to know details about Jesus’ mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Why was she, in particular, chosen to bear the Son of God? It is in this account that we first learn about Mary’s own miraculous birth. Here, her mother, Anna, is said to be barren, but God miraculously allows her to conceive. When Mary is born, her mother dedicates her to God, and makes the girl’s bedroom into a sanctuary in which she lives, apart from the polluting influences of the world, for the first three years of her life. She is then taken by her parents to the Temple of God in Jerusalem, where she is raised by the priests and fed daily by an angel sent from above. When she nears puberty, the priests find a guardian for her by a kind of divinely inspired lottery, and the job falls upon an elderly widower Joseph, who at first refuses to take on the responsibility but then is persuaded by the priests who tell him that God will not take no for an answer.