Mother of the Blessed Virgin
(†ca. 3 B.C.)
Saint Anne, chosen by God to be the mother of Mary, His own Blessed Mother on earth, was the spouse of Saint Joachim. Ancestor of the Eternal King and High Priest, Joachim was of the royal house of David, while Anne was of Levitical descent. Their lives were wholly occupied with prayer and good works. One thing only was wanting to their union — they were childless, and this was held as a bitter misfortune among the Jews. At length, when Anne was well advanced in age, Mary was born, the fruit rather of grace than of nature, and the child more of God than of man.
With the birth of Mary the holy matron began a new life; she watched Her every movement with reverent tenderness, and, aware of the little one’s destiny, felt herself hourly sanctified by the presence of her Immaculate Child. But she had vowed her daughter to God; to God the child Mary had already consecrated Herself, and to Him Anne gave Her back. Mary was three years old when Anne and Joachim led Her to the Temple steps, saw Her pass by Herself into the inner sanctuary, and then saw Her no more. Thus was Anne left childless in her old age, and deprived of her purest earthly joy. The holiest parents on earth could not, in the plan of God, raise this Child as was needed: Mary had to suffer from Her earliest years. Saint Anne and Saint Joachim humbly adored the Divine Will, and continued to watch and pray, until God called them to unending rest.
France and Canada possess the principal sanctuaries of Saint Anne: in France, at Apt in Provence, and at Auray in Britanny; in Canada at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in the Province of Quebec. At Apt the discovery in 792 of Saint Anne’s relics, brought by Lazarus and his two sisters to France, was wholly miraculous, authenticated by the presence of Charlemagne during the discovery, and the signature of Pope Adrian I on the written account of the facts.
Reflection: Saint Anne is glorious among the Saints, not only as the mother of Mary, but because she gave Mary to God. Learn from her to reverence a religious vocation as the highest privilege, and to sacrifice every natural bond, however holy, at the call of God.
Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).