Sts. Joachim and Anne
The Grandparents of Jesus
The names of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary are not found anywhere in the Bible. What we now know about the grandparents of Jesus came down through tradition and the stories people told about them. Interestingly, majority of what we know about them came from the 2nd century manuscript Protoevangelium of James and the 3rd century Evangelium de nativitate Mariae or the “Gospel of the Nativity of Mary”. Both documents mentioned the names Joachim and Anne as the parents of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
According to these non-canonical sources, Anne was a native of Bethlehem in Judea. She was married to Joachim. They lived a devout and wealthy life at Nazareth. As such, they were respected members of the Jewish community. However, despite such a good situation, they had no child. Joachim was reproached at the Temple because of his sterility. He retreated into the countryside to pray and to fast. On the other hand, Anne, grieved by her husband’s disappearance and her barrenness, solemnly vowed to God that if they were given a child, she would dedicate it to the Lord’s service.
The Promise Fulfilled
Joachim and Anne both received the vision of an angel. The heavenly messenger announced that Anne would conceive and bear a most wondrous child. The couple rejoiced at the birth of their long-awaited daughter. They named the child Mary. When Mary was three years old, in fulfillment of Anne’s promise, Joachim and Anne brought the child to the Temple in Jerusalem. There, they left Mary to be brought up and serve the Lord. This story startlingly parallels the Old Testament account of the barren Hannah and her conception of Samuel (see 1 Samuel 1), who later became a prophet.
The Church honors Joachim and Anne as saints. The beautiful shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec, Canada is devoted to St. Anne. In the Middle Ages, numerous churches, chapels, and confraternities were dedicated to her honor. There is a church of St. Anne in Jerusalem. It is believed that this church was built on the site of Sts. Joachim and Anne’s home when they lived in Jerusalem. Their feast day is observed on July 26.
World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly
On January 31, 2021, the Holy Father Pope Francis announced the institution of World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. This will take place annually on the fourth Sunday of July, close to the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus. The Pope said he instituted the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly because “grandparents are often forgotten, and we forget this wealth of preserving roots and passing on” what the elderly have received.
Five Interesting Facts About Sts. Joachim and Anne
- Sts. Joachim and Anne are the patron saints of grandparents and infertile couples.
- According to later legends, Joachim died shortly after Mary’s birth, and Anne, encouraged by the Holy Spirit, remarried. Some traditions hold that Anne in her alleged subsequent marriage(s) became the grandmother of the Apostles John and James (sons of Zebedee), Simon, Jude, and James the Less (son of Alphaeus) and also of James, “the Lord’s brother.”
- The Protoevangelium of James became the foundation for establishing the liturgical feasts of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary on September 8 and the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 8.
- The dedication of Mary at the Temple became so important in Church doctrine that by 1585, Pope Sixtus V included in the Western Church calendar the liturgical feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary celebrated every November 21.
- In the early 8th century Pope Constantine probably introduced her devotion to Rome, while Joachim’s cult was introduced in the West in the 15th century.
Prayer to Sts. Joachim and Anne
O Lord, God of our Fathers,who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace,that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son,grant, through the prayers of both,that we may attain the salvationyou have promised to your people.Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,God, for ever and ever.