Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sts. Ann and Joachim - Parents of the Virgin Mary, Grandparent of Jesus Christ

St. Joachim and Anne-the Parents of the Virgin Mary and the Grandparents of Jesus Christ
As today is the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, I thought I would write about Sts. Joachim and Ann, her parents. Please see yesterday's blog posting about the Feast Day of the Nativity of the Virgin.

In the Scriptures, Matthew and Luke furnish a legal family history of Jesus, tracing ancestry to show that Jesus is the culmination of great promises. Not only is his mother’s family neglected, we also know nothing factual about them except that they existed. Even the names Joachim and Anne come from a legendary source written more than a century after Jesus died.

The heroism and holiness of these people, however, is inferred from the whole family atmosphere around Mary in the Scriptures. Whether we rely on the legends about Mary’s childhood or make guesses from the information in the Bible, we see in her a fulfillment of many generations of prayerful persons, herself steeped in the religious traditions of her people.

We get the oldest story from a document called the Gospel ofJames, though in no way should this document be trusted to be factual, historical, of the Word of God. The legend told in this document says that after years of childlessness, an angel appeared to tell Anne and Joachim that they would have a child. Anne (also referred to as Ann or Hannah) promised to dedicate this child to God (much the same way that Samuel was dedicated to Sameal was dedicated by his mother Hannah - Anne - in 1 Kings). 

Presentation of St. Mary - Denys Calvaert

The strong character of Mary in making decisions, her continuous practice of prayer, her devotion to the laws of her faith, her steadiness at moments of crisis, and her devotion to her relatives—all indicate a close-knit, loving family that looked forward to the next generation even while retaining the best of the past.

St. Ann teaching her daughter, the Virgin Mary

Joachim and Anne—whether these are their real names or not—represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remain obscure.

Joachim and Anne at the Golden Gates - Giotto
July 26 is the “feast of grandparents.” It reminds grandparents of their responsibility to establish a tone for generations to come: They must make the traditions live and offer them as a promise to little children. But the feast has a message for the younger generation as well. It reminds the young that older people’s greater perspective, depth of experience and appreciation of life’s profound rhythms are all part of a wisdom not to be taken lightly or ignored.

“...[T]he family is the foundation of society. In it the various generations come together and help one another to grow wise and to harmonize personal rights with the other requirements of social life” (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, 52).

"They represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, and practice their faith, but remain obscure." (Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feasts)

Parents of Mary, pray for all parents that they provide the loving home and faithful teaching that you provided your daughter. Amen
Patron Saints of:
Ann: 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; Brittany; Canada; France; Quebec; archdiocese of Detroit, Michigan; diocese of Norwich, Connecticut; Santa Ana Indian Pueblo; Taos, New Mexico.

Joachim: fathers, grandfathers, grandparents.

Ann: 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.


  1. Another wonderful article. The pictures are outstanding!

    Robert's Heirloom Rosaries

  2. Thanks. They are my favorite "couple" and St. Ann is my patron saint. I love the "love" relationships you see with them, husband and wife, mother and daughter, father and daughter, grandmother and grandson. It's beautiful to me.