Memorial of Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary Old Calendar: St. Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary
It was in the home of Joachim and Ann where the Virgin Mary received her training to be the Mother of God. Thus, devotion to Ann and Joachim is an extension of the affection Christians have always professed toward our Blessed Mother. We, too, owe a debt of gratitude to our parents for their help in our Christian formation.
According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Ann; St. Joachim’s feast in this rite is celebrated on August 16.
Sts. Joachim and Ann
Who does not know about the great shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupre in Canada, where miracles abound, where cured cripples leave their crutches, and where people come from thousands of miles to pray to the grandmother of Jesus? At one time, July 26 was the feast of St. Anne only, but with the new calendar the two feasts of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been joined and are celebrated today. Our information about Mary’s parents comes from an apocryphal Christian writing, the Protoevangelium Jacobi (or Gospel of James), written about the year 170. According to this story, Joachim was a prominent and respected man who had no children, and he and his wife, Anne, looked upon this as a punishment from God. In answer to their prayers, Mary was born and was dedicated to God at a very early age.
From this early Christian writing have come several of the feast days of Mary, particularly the Immaculate Conception, the Nativity of Mary, and her Assumption into Heaven. Very early also came feast days in honor of SS. Joachim and Anne, and in the Middle Ages numerous churches, chapels, and confraternities were dedicated to St. Anne. The couple early became models of Christian marriage, and their meeting at the Golden Gate in Jerusalem has been a favorite subject of Christian artists.
Anne is often shown in paintings with Jesus and Mary and is considered a subject that attracts attention, since Anne is the grandmother of Jesus. Her two great shrines — that of Ste. Anne d’Auray in Britanny, France, and that of Ste. Anne de Beaupre near Quebec in Canada — are very popular. We know little else about the lives of Mary’s parents, but considering the person of Mary, they must have been two very remarkable people to have been given such a daughter and to have played so important a part in the work of the Redemption.
There is a church of St. Anne in Jerusalem and it is believed to be built on the site of the home of SS. Joachim and Anne, when they lived in Jerusalem.
Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saintsby Rev. Clifford Stevens
Anne:against poverty; barren; broommakers; cabinetmakers; carpenters; childless couples; equestrians; grandmothers; grandparents; homemakers; housewives; lace makers; lace workers; lost articles; miners; mothers; old-clothes dealers; pregnancy; pregnant women; horse riders; seamstresses; stablemen; sterility; turners; women in labour.
Joachim:fathers, grandfathers, grandparents.
Anne: Book, symbol of her careful instruction of Mary; flowering rod; crown; nest of young birds; door; Golden Gate of Jerusalem; book; infant Virgin in crib; Shield has silver border masoned in black, with silver lily on a blue field referring to the girlhood of the Virgin.
Often Portrayed As:Woman holding Mary or Jesus in her arms or lap; Woman at her betrothal to Joachim; Mother teaching Mary to read the Bible; Woman greeting Saint Joachim at Golden Gate; Woman with a book in her hand.
Joachim: Basket containing doves; model of Golden Gate of Jerusalem.
Often Portrayed As: Man bringing a lamb to the altar and being turned away by the priest; greeting and/or kissing Saint Anne at the Golden Gate; elderly man carrying a basket of doves and a staff; elderly man with the child Mary.
Today is the name day of my wife Ann. One of the traditions of the Orthodox Church (most of my family joined the Russian Church a long time ago – that’s another story) is that of the wedding icon: when a couple are married an icon is painted of their two name saints. So we have a hand-painted icon of St Ann (as shown above) with St Patrick (my middle name). I believe it was painted by the sisters of the Bar Convent in York – a wedding gift with a difference. I’ve tried to upload an image of the icon without success – shame.
Continuing with the marriage theme, we went this evening to a Mass to celebrate the 25th Wedding Anniversary of some very good friends of ours – a Tridentine Mass at our Parish Church. The plainchant singing was beautiful, and there was much to absorb and think about. I had a long and friendly chat with the singers afterwards.
Happy Feast Day to your wife, Manus. I love the sound of the Orthodox wedding icon tradition.
Manus, I don’t know if this would impress your good lady on her Name Day, but it fits in nicely with the earlier thread about pilgrimages to shrines.
Here in the Golden Chersonese, the shrine of St Anne at Bukit Mertajam (sharp hill!) on mainland Penang attracts about 100,000 pilgrims each year on the feast of St Anne. Together with the Portuguese churches at Malacca in the south of the country, the shrine of St Anne in the north is becoming more and more synonymous with Catholicism in this equatorial land.
As you would have guessed from the appearance of the church, the church and pilgrimage are French products (just like the shrines in Brittany and Quebec), being the fruits of the labour of the many French fathers of the ‘Société des Missions Étrangères de Paris’ here in South-East Asia. You will find many good-looking churches here, in Singapore and Thailand owing to their indefatigable work. The pilgrimage actually started as the parish patronal feast but caught on rather seriously to become what it is today.
This week it’s all on again for young and old, with the candle-light procession for St Anne to be held on Saturday evening.
No such thing as the ‘camino de Santa Ana’, I’m afraid but, I admit, there’s a thought, A little too hot and sticky, possibly. Nobody walks anywhere here.
JP, GC, many thanks.