Today is the Feast of Saint Anne, the mother of the Mother of God. Every Catholic heart should be moved by the suffering and stigmatization that Saint Anne underwent prior to being blessed by the return of her husband, Saint Joachim, who had gone into voluntary exile as he, who came from the Levitical line of priests, thought himself to be accursed for his wife’s barrenness. This stigmatization was but a foreshadowing of the mockery that their Grandson, our dear innocent Lord, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, underwent through His whole life, especially during His last agonies on the gibbet of the Holy Cross.
Saint Anne had the privilege of conceiving the fairest flower of our race, the New Eve, the Ark of the Covenant, the Help of Christians and our very own Co-Redemptrix, Our Lady, who was preserved from all stain of Original Sin at the very moment of her conception. Our Lady herself has provided us with the account of her parents’ lives, including the inestimable privileges of Good Saint Anne, as recorded by the Venerable Mary of Agreda in The New English Edition of The Mystical City of God:
165. At this juncture (according to our way of understanding) the Most High directed his attention to the attribute of his mercy, counterbalanced the weight of his incomprehensible justice with the law of clemency, and chose to yield more to his own goodness and to the clamors and faithful services of the just and the Prophets of his people than to his indignation at the wickedness and sins of all the rest of mankind. In this dark night of the ancient law He resolved to give most certain pledges of the day of grace, sending into the world two most illustrious luminaries to announce the approaching dawn of the Sun of justice, Christ our salvation. These were St. Joachim and St. Anne, prepared and created by the divine will and made according to his own Heart. St. Joachim had his home, family and relations in Nazareth, a town of Galilee. He was always a just and holy man, illumined by special grace and light from on high, and had knowledge of many mysteries of the Holy Scriptures and of the ancient Prophets. In continual and fervent prayer he asked of God the fulfillment of his promises, and his faith and charity penetrated the heavens. He was a most humble and pure man, leading a most holy and sincere life, most grave and earnest, and incomparably modest and honest.
166. The most happy Anne had a house in Bethlehem, and was a most chaste, humble and beautiful maiden. From her childhood she led a most virtuous, holy and retired life, enjoying great and continual enlightenment in exalted contemplation; moreover, she was most diligent and industrious, thus attaining perfection in both the active and the contemplative life. She had an infused knowledge of the divine Scriptures and a profound understanding of its hidden mysteries and sacraments. In the infused virtues of faith, hope and charity she was unexcelled. Equipped with all these gifts she continued to pray for the coming of the Messiah. Her prayers were so acceptable to the Lord that to her He could but answer with the words of the Spouse: Thou hast wounded my heart with one of thy hairs (Cant. 4:9). Hence without any doubt the merits of St. Anne hold the highest place among the saints of the Old Testament in hastening the coming of the Word.
167. This woman also prayed most fervently that the Almighty deign to procure for her in matrimony a husband who would help her to observe the ancient law and testament, and to be perfect in the fulfillment of all its precepts. At the moment in which St. Anne thus prayed to the Lord, his providence ordained that St. Joachim made the same petition; both prayers were presented at the same time before the tribunal of the most blessed Trinity, where they were heard and fulfilled, it being then and there divinely disposed that Joachim and Anne unite in marriage and become the parents of She who was to be the Mother of the incarnate God. In order to execute this divine decree the archangel St. Gabriel was sent to manifest it to both of them. To St. Anne he appeared in visible form while she was engaged in fervent prayer for the coming of the Savior of the world and Redeemer of men. When she saw the holy Prince, most beautiful and refulgent, she was disturbed and frightened, and yet at the same time interiorly rejoiced and enlightened. The holy maiden prostrated herself in profound humility to reverence the ambassador of heaven, but he detained her and comforted her, since deposited in her was that which was to be the Ark of the true manna, Mary most holy, Mother of the incarnate Word, for this holy Archangel had been informed of this sacramental mystery on being sent with this message. The other angels did not yet know of it since only to St. Gabriel had this revelation or illumination been given directly from the Lord. Neither did the Angel then manifest this great sacrament to St. Anne, but he asked for her attention and said: “The Most High give thee his blessing, servant of God, and be thy salvation. His Highness has heard thy petitions, and He desires thee to persevere in them, and to clamor for the coming of the Savior. It is his will for thee to accept Joachim as thy spouse, for he is a man of upright heart and pleasing in the eyes of the Lord. In his company thou shalt be able to persevere in the observance of his divine law and in his service. Continue thy prayers and supplications, and be not solicitous for anything else, for the Lord himself shall ordain how they shall be fulfilled. Walk in the straight paths of justice, and let thy interior habitation be always on high. Petition always for the coming of the Messiah, and rejoice in the Lord, who is thy salvation.” With these words the Angel disappeared, leaving her enlightened in many mysteries of Holy Scriptures and comforted and renewed in spirit.
168. To St. Joachim the Archangel did not appear in a corporeal manner, but he spoke to the man of God in sleep as follows: “Joachim, be thou blessed by the right hand of the Most High. Persevere in thy desires and live in rectitude, walking in perfection. It is the will of the Lord for thee to receive Anne as thy spouse, who is a soul to whom the Almighty has given his blessing. Take care of her and esteem her as a pledge of the Most High, and give thanks to His Majesty because he has entrusted her to thy care.” In consequence of this divine message Joachim immediately asked for the hand of the most chaste Anne, and in joint obedience to the divine ordainment they espoused each other. But neither of them manifested to each other the secret of what had happened until several years afterwards, as I will relate in its place (Con. 184). The two holy spouses lived in Nazareth, continuing to walk in the justifications of the Lord. With rectitude and sincerity they gave the fullness of perfection to their virtues and works, making themselves very acceptable and pleasing to the Most High and avoiding all blemish in all their doings. The rents and incomes of their estate they divided each year into three parts: The first one they offered to the temple of Jerusalem for the worship of the Lord, the second they distributed to the poor, and the third they retained to decently sustain their life and domestics. God augmented their temporal goods due to their generosity and charity.
169. They themselves lived with each other in undisturbed peace and union of heart, without quarrel or shadow of a grudge. The most humble Anne subjected herself and conformed herself in all things to the will of Joachim, and that man of God, with equal emulation of humility, sought to know the desires of holy Anne, confiding in her with his whole heart (Prov. 31:11); and he was not deceived. Thus they lived together in such perfect charity that during their whole life they never experienced a time during which one ceased to seek the same thing as the other (Mt. 18:20); rather, being united in the Lord they enjoyed his presence in holy fear. St. Joachim, solicitous to obey the command of the Angel, honored his spouse and lavished his attention upon her.
170. The Lord prevented the holy matron Anne with the blessings of his sweetness (Ps. 20:4), communicating to her most exalted graces and infused science which prepared her for the happy destiny of becoming the mother of She who was to be the Mother of God himself. Since the works of God are perfect and consummate, it was natural to expect Him to make her a worthy mother of that most pure creature who would be superior in sanctity to all creatures and inferior only to God.
171. These holy spouses passed twenty years of their wedded life without issue of children. In those times and among the people of the Jews this was held to be the greatest misfortune and disgrace; hence they had to suffer much reproach and contempt from their neighbors and acquaintances, for all those who were childless were considered as excluded from the benefits of the Messiah. But the Most High desired to afflict them and dispose them for the grace which awaited them, so in patience and submission they could tearfully sow the happy fruit which they were afterwards to bring forth (Ps. 125:5). They continued in most fervent prayers from the bottom of their hearts, mindful of the command from on high. They offered to the Lord by an express vow that if He would give them issue they would consecrate to his service in the temple the fruit of benediction they would receive.
172. This offering was made by a special impulse of the Holy Ghost, who had ordained that She who was to be the habitation of the Son of God would, before coming into existence, be offered and as it were pledged by her parents to the same Lord; for if before knowing Her and treating with Her they had not obliged themselves by a particular vow to offer Her to the temple, upon seeing Her such a sweet and pleasing creature they would not have been able to make this vow with such promptitude due to the vehement love which they would have for Her. According to our mode of understanding such things, by this offering the Lord merely satisfied the jealousy He already had regarding his most holy Mother and whether others would have part in Her, and his love entertained itself in the delay in creating Her.
173. Having at the command of the Lord persevered a whole year in fervent petitions, it happened by divine inspiration and ordainment that Joachim was in the temple of Jerusalem offering prayers and sacrifices for the coming of the Messiah and for the fruit which he desired. Arriving with others of his town to offer the common gifts and contributions in the presence of the high priest, an inferior priest named Issachar harshly reprehended the old and venerable Joachim for presuming to come with the other people to make his offerings in spite of his being childless. Among other things he said to him: “Why dost thou, Joachim, come to offer, being a useless man? Turn away from the rest and depart; do not annoy God with thy offerings and sacrifices, which are not pleasing in his eyes.” The holy man, full of shame and confusion, in humble love thus addressed the Lord: “Most high Lord and eternal God, at thy command and will I came to the temple; he who takes thy place despises me; my sins merit this ignominy; but since I accept it according to thy will, despise not the work of thy hands” (Ps. 137:8). Joachim departed from the temple full of sorrow (yet peaceful and calm) to a farm or storehouse which he possessed, and there in solitude he called upon the Lord for some days, praying as follows:
174. “Most high and eternal God, upon whom depends the entire existence and repair of the human race, prostrate in thy royal presence I supplicate Thee to deign in thy infinite goodness to look upon the affliction of my soul, and hear my prayers and those of thy servant Anne. To thine eyes are manifest all our desires (Ps. 37:10); and if I do not merit to be heard, do not despise my humble spouse. Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, our first fathers, do not hide thy kindness from us, nor permit, since Thou art a Father, that I be numbered among the reprobate and the outcasts in my offerings as useless because Thou givest me no issue. Remember, O Lord, the sacrifices and oblations of thy servants and Prophets (Dt. 9:27), my ancestors, and keep present their works, which were pleasing in thy divine eyes. Since Thou dost command me, my Lord, to pray to Thee with confidence, as to one powerful and rich in mercies, grant me that for which I pray at thy desire. In beseeching Thee I fulfill thy holy will and render the obedience in which Thou hast promised to grant my petition. If my sins hinder thy mercies, take away what displeases and hinders Thee. Thou art mighty, Lord God of Israel, and all that is in thy will Thou canst accomplish without hindrance (Esther 13:9). Let my prayer reach thy ears, for I am poor and small, and Thou art infinite and inclined to exercise mercy with the downcast. Whither shall I flee from Thee, who art the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and almighty? Thy sons and servants Thou dost fill with gifts and benedictions in their generations, and Thou hast instructed me to desire and hope from thy liberality what Thou hast wrought with my brethren. If it is Thy pleasure to grant to my petition, the fruit of succession I receive from thy hand I shall offer and consecrate to Thee in thy holy temple. I have surrendered my heart and my mind to thy will, and have always desired to turn my eyes away from vanity. Work in me what is according to thy pleasure, and rejoice, O Lord, our spirit with the fulfillment of our hope. Look down from thy throne upon the humble dust and raise it up so it can magnify and adore Thee, and in all things may thy will and not mine be done.”
175. While Joachim made this petition in his retirement, the holy Angel declared to St. Anne how pleasing her prayer for a child was to His Highness, made with holy affection, intention and desire. Having thus recognized the will of God and of her husband Joachim, she prayed with humble subjection and confidence that it be fulfilled. “Most high God, my Lord, Creator and universal Preserver of all things, whom my soul reveres and adores as the true God, infinite, holy and eternal: Prostrate in thy royal presence I shall speak, though I am but dust and ashes (Gen. 18:27), proclaiming my need and my affliction. Lord God uncreated, make us worthy of thy benediction and give us holy fruit of the womb, that we may offer the child to thy service in thy temple. Remember, my Lord, that Anne, thy servant, the mother of Samuel, was sterile, and yet by thy generous mercy she received the fulfillment of her desires (I Kg. 1ff.). I feel in my heart a force which encourages and animates me to ask Thee to work within me this mercy. Hear then, my sweetest Lord and Master, my humble petition; remember the services, offerings and sacrifices of my ancestors, and the favors which the powerful arm of thy omnipotence wrought in them. I desire, O Lord, to offer Thee an oblation pleasing and acceptable in thine eyes; but the greatest I can offer is my soul, my faculties and senses Thou gavest me, and my whole being. If Thou wilt look upon me from thy royal throne and give me a child, I shall from this moment consecrate and offer it for thy service in the temple. Lord God of Israel, if it be thy will and pleasure to look upon this vile and poor creature, and to console thy servant Joachim, grant me, O Lord, this petition; and in all things may thy holy and eternal will be done.”
176. These were the prayers which Sts. Joachim and Anne offered. Due to my [Venerable Mary of Agreda’s] great shortcomings and insufficiency I cannot fully describe what I was made to understand concerning the holiness of these prayers and of these saintly parents. It is impossible to tell all, nor is it necessary, since what I have said is sufficient for my purpose. In order to obtain an appropriate idea of these Saints it is necessary to estimate and judge them in connection with the most high end and ministry for which they were chosen by God, for they were the immediate grandparents of Christ our Lord, and parents of his most holy Mother. (The New English Edition of The Mystical City of God, The Conception, Part One, Book One, Chapeter 12.)
Good Saint Anne exhibited the virtues of the wise and was the antithesis of the vices of the foolish. Indeed, the following words from the Book of Proverbs can be applied fittingly to the grandmother of Our Divine Redeemer, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ:
In much work there shall be abundance: but where there are many words, there is oftentimes want.  The crown of the wise is their riches: the folly of fools, imprudence.  A faithful witness delivereth souls: and the double dealer uttereth lies.
 In the fear of the Lord is confidence of strength, and there shall be hope for his children.  The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to decline from the ruin of death.  In the multitude of people is the dignity of the king: and in the small number of people the dishonour of the prince.  He that is patient, is governed with much wisdom: but he that is impatient, exalteth his folly.  Soundness of heart is the life of the flesh: but envy is the rottenness of the bones. (Proverbs 14: 23-30.]
The first bounty of the fruit given us by Saint Anne was, of course, Our Lady herself, and it was this very sublime end that God Himself had appointed for Saint Anne and her holy spouse, Saint Joachim, to fulfill, something that Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., in The Liturgical Year, explained with his unique Catholic insight and eloquence:
Uniting the blood of kings with that of pontiffs, the glory of Anne's illustrious origin is far surpassed by that of her offspring, without compare among the daughters of Eve. The noblest of all who have ever conceived by virtue of the command to 'increase and multiply,' beholds the law of human generation pause before her as having arrived at its summit, at the threshold of God; for from her fruit of God Himself is to come forth, the fatherless Son of the Blessed Virgin and the grandson of Anne and Joachim.
Before being favoured with the greatest blessing ever bestowed on an earthly union, the two holy grandparents of the Word made Flesh had to pass through the purification of suffering. Traditions which though mingled with details of less authenticity, have come down to us from the very beginning of Christianity. Tell us of these noble spouses subjected to the trial of prolonged sterility, and on that account despised by their people; of Joachim cast out of the temple and going to hide his sorrow in the desert; of Anne left alone to mourn her widowhood and humiliation. For exquisite sentiment this narrative might be compared with the most beautiful histories in Holy Scripture.
'It was one of the great festival days of the Lord. In spite of extreme sorrow, Anne laid aside her mourning garments, and adorned her head and clothed herself with her nuptial robes. And about the ninth hour she went down to the garden to walk; seeing a laurel she sat down in its shade, and poured forth her prayer to the Lord God, saying: “God of my fathers, bless me and hear my supplication, as Thou didst bless Sara and didst give her a son !”
'And raising her eyes to heaven, she saw in the laurel a sparrow's nest, and sighing she said: “Alas ! Of whom was I born to be thus a curse in Israel?
' “ To whom shall I like me? I cannot like me to the birds of the air; for the birds are blessed by Thee, O Lord.
' “ To whom shall I liken me? I cannot liken me to the beasts of the earth: for they, too, are fruitful before thee.
' “ To whom shall I liken me? I cannot liken me to the waters; for they are not barren in thy sight and the rivers and the oceans full of fish praise thee in their heavings and in their peaceful flowing.
' “ To whom shall I liken me? I cannot liken me even to the earth, for the earth, too bears fruit in season and praises thee, O Lord.”
'And behold an angel of the Lord stood by, and said to her: “Anne, God has heard thy prayer; thou shalt conceive and bear a child and thy fruit shall be honoured throughout, the whole inhabited earth.” And in due time Anne brought forth a daughter, and said: “My souls is magnified this hour.” And she called the child Mary; and giving her the breast, she intoned this canticle to the Lord.
' “ I will sing the praise of the Lord my God: for he has visited me and has taken away my shame, and has given me a fruit of justice. Who shall declare to the sons of Ruben that Anne is become fruitful? Hear, hear, O ye twelve tribes: behold Anne is giving suck !” ' (Protevangelium Jacobi.)
The feast of St. Joachim, which the Church celebrates on the day following his blessed daughter's Assumption, will give us an occasion of completing the account of these trials and joys in which he shared. Warned from heaven to leave the desert, he met his spouse at the golden gate which leads to the Temple on the east side. Not far from here, near the Probatica piscina, where the little white lambs were washed before being offered in sacrifice, now stands the restored basilica of St. Anne originally called St. Mary of the Nativity. Here as in a peaceful paradise, the rod of Jesse produced that blessed branch which the prophet hailed as about to bear the flower that had blossomed from eternity in the bosom of the Father. It is true that Sepphoris Anne's native city and Nazareth, where Mary lived, dispute with the Holy City the honour which ancient and constant tradition assigns to Jerusalem. But our homage will not be misdirected if we offer it to-day to blessed Anne, in whom were wrought the prodigies the very thought of which brings new joy to heave, rate to Satan, and triumph to the world.
Anne was, as it were, the starting point of redemption, the horizon scanned by the prophets, the first span of the heavens to be empurpled with the rising fires of dawn; the blessed soil whose produce was so pure as to make the angels believe that Eden had been restored to us. But in the midst of the incomparable peace that surrounds her, let us hail her as the land of victory surpassing the most famous fields of battle; as the sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception, where our humiliated race took up the combat begun before the throne of God by the angelic hosts; where the serpent's head was crushed, and Michael, now surpassed in glory, gladly handed over to his sweet Queen, at the first moment of her existence, the command of the Lord's armies.
What human lips, unless touched like the prophet's with a burning coal, could tell the admiring wonder of the angelic Powers, when the Blessed Trinity, passing the burning Seraphim, to the lowest of the nine choirs bade them turn their fiery glances and contemplate the flower of sanctity blossoming in the bosom of Anne?
The Psalmist had said of the glorious City whose foundations were now hidden in her that was once barren: The foundations thereof are in the holy mountains, (Ps. Ixxxvi, I.) and the heavenly hierarchies crowing the slopes of the eternal hills beheld in her heights to them unknown and unattainable summits approaching so near to God, that He was even then preparing then His throne in her. Like Moses at the sight of the burning bush on Horeb, they were seized with a holy awe on recognizing the mountain of God in the midst of the desert of this world: and they understood that the affliction of Israel was soon to cease. Although shrouded by the cloud, Mary was already that blessed mountain whose base – i.e. the starting point of her graces – was set far above the summits where the highest created sanctities are perfected in glory and love.
How justly is the mother named Anne, which signifies grace, she in whom for nine months were centred the angelic spirits, and the hope of all flesh! No doubt it was Mary, the daughter, and not the mother whose sweetness so powerfully attracted the heavens to our lowly earth. But the perfume first scents the vessel which contains it, and even after it is removed, leaves it impregnated with its fragrance. Moreover, it is customary to prepare the vase itself with the greatest care: it must be all the purer, made of more precious material, and more richly adorned, according as the essence to be placed in it is rarer and more exquisite. Thus Magdalen enclosed her precious spikneard in alabaster. The Holy Spirit, the preparer of heavenly perfumes, would not be less careful than men. Now the task of blessed Anne was not limited, like that of a material vase, to containing passively the treasure of the world. She furnished the body of her who was to give flesh to the Son of God; she nourished her with her mild; she gave to her, who was inundated with flood of divine light, the first practical notions of life. In the education of her illustrious daughter, Anne played the part of a true mother: not only did she guide Mary's first steps, but she co-operated with the Holy Ghost in the education of her soul and the preparation for her incomparable destiny” until, when the work had reached the highest development to which she could bring it, she, without a moment's hesitation or a thought of self, offered her tenderly loved child to Him from whom she had received her.
Sic fingit tabernaculum Deo –' Thus she frames a tabernacle for God.' Such was the inscription around the figure of St. Anne instructing Mary, which formed the device of the ancient guild of joiners and cabinet-makers; for they, looking upon the making of tabernacles wherein God may dwell in our churches as their most choice work had taken St. Anne for their patroness and model. Happy were those times when the simplicity of our fathers penetrated so deeply into the practical understanding of mysteries which their infatuated sons glory in ignoring. The valiant woman is praised in the Book of Proverbs for her spinning, weaving, sewing, embroidering, and household cares: naturally, then, those engaged in these occupations placed themselves under the protection of the spouse of Joachim. More than once, those suffering from the same trial which had inspired Anne's touching prayer beneath the sparrow's nest, experience the power of her intercession in obtaining for others, as well as for herself, the blessing of the Lord God. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Time after Pentecost, Book IV, Volume 13, pp. 188-192.)
Good Saint Anne, who fulfilled her promise to God by returning her beloved daughter unto Him at the age of three, is indeed a model for all women to be valiant women who perform the duties of their state-in-life well for love of God as He has revealed Himself to us exclusively through His true Church, the Catholic Church.
It was, therefore, only natural that the Catholic Church would choose to pay homage to the mother of the Mother God in her liturgical rites. Dom Gueranger’s historical of the development of devotion to Saint Anne is thus very instructive:
The East anticipated the West in the public cultus of the grandmother of the Messias. Towards the middle of the sixth century a church was dedicated to her in Constantinople. The Typicon of St. Sabbas makes a liturgical commemorations of her three times the year: on September 9, together with her spouse St. Joachim, the day after the birthday of their glorious daughter; on December 9, whereon the Greeks, a day later than the Latins, keep the feast of our Lady's Immaculate Conception, under a title which more directly expresses St. Anne's share in the mystery and lastly, July 25, not being occupied by the feast of St. James, which was kept on April 30, is called the Dormitio or precious death of St, Anne, mother of the most holy Mother of God: the very same expression which the Roman martyrology adopted later.
Although Rome, with her usual reserve, did not until much later authorize, the introduction into the Latin Churches of a liturgical feast of St. Anne, she nevertheless encouraged the piety of the faithful in this direction. So ealy as the time of Leo III (795-816) and by that illustrious Pontiff's express command, the history of Anne and Joachim was represented on the sacred ornaments of the noblest basilicas in the Eternal City. (Lib. Pontif, in Leon, III) The Order of Carmel, so devout to St. Anne, powerfully contributed, by its fortunate migration into our countries, to the growing increase of her cultus. Moreover, this development was the natural outcome of the progress of devotion among the people to the Mother of God. The close relation between the two cults is noticed in a concession, whereby in 1381 Urban VI satisfied the desires of the faithful in England by authorizing for that kingdom a feast of the blessed Anne. The Church of Apt in Provence had been already a century in possession of the feast; a fact due to the honour bestowed on that Church of having received, almost together with the faith, the saint's holy body, in the first age of Christianity.
Since our Lord, reigning in heaven, has willed that His blessed Mother should also be crowned there in her virginal body, the relics of Mary's mother have become doubly dear to the world, first, as in the case of others, on account of the holiness of her whose precious remains they are, and then above all others, on account of their close connection with the mystery of the Incarnation. The Church of Apt was so generous out of its abundance that it would now be impossible to enumerate the sanctuaries which have obtained, either from this principal source or from elsewhere, more or less notable portions of these precious relics. We cannot omit to mention as one of these privileged places, the great basilica of St. Paul outside the walls; St. Anne herself, in an apparition to St. Bridget of Sweden, (Revelations S. Birgitta, lib. Vi, cap. 104.) confirmed the authenticity of the arm which forms one of the most precious jewels in the rich treasury of that Church.
It was not until 1584, that Gregory XIII, ordered the celebration of this feast of July 26, throughout the whole Church, with the rite of a double. Leo XIII in recent times (1879) raised it, together with that of St. Joachim, to the dignity of a solemnity of the second class. But before that, Gregory XV, after having been cured of a serious illness by St, Anne, had ranked her feast among those of precept, with the obligation of resting from servile work.
Now that St. Anne was receiving the homage due to her exalted dignity, she made haste to show her recognition of this more solemn tribute of praise. In the years 1623, 1624, and 1625, in the village of Kerouanne, near Auray, in Brittany, she appeared to Yves Nicolazic, and discovered to him an ancient statue buried in the field of Bocenno, which he tenanted. This discovery brought the people once more to the place where, a thousand years before, the inhabitants of ancient Armorica had honoured that statue. Innumerable graces obtained on the spot spread its fame far beyond the limits of the province, whose faith, worthy of past ages, had merited the favour of the grandmother of the Messias; and St. Anne d'Auray was soon reckoned among the chief pilgrimages of the Christian world. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Time after Pentecost, Book IV, Volume 13, pp. 192-194.)
Every Catholic home should be adorned with an image of Good Saint Anne as she instructed her daughter, our own Most Blessed Mother. Readers of this site know that every article posted hereon includes an invocation of Saints Joachim and Anne.
Dom Prosper Gueranger closed his reflection with the following prayer to Saint Anne:
More fortunate that the wife of Elcana, who prefigured thee both in her trial and by her name, thou O Anne, now singest the magnificent gifts of the Lord. Where is now the proud synagogue that despise thee? The descendants of the barren one are now without number; and all we, the brethren of Jesus, children like Him, of thy daughter Mary, come joyfully, led by our Mother, to offer thee our praises. In the family circle the grandmother's feast day is the most touching of all, where her grandchildren surround her with reverential love as we gather around thee to-day. Many alas! Know not these beautiful feasts, where the blessing of the earthly paradise seems to revive in all its freshness; but the mercy of our God has provided a sweet compensation. He, the Most High God, willed to come so nigh to us as to be the one of us in the flesh; to know the relations and mutual dependencies which are the law of our nature; the cords of Adam, with which He had determined to draw us and in which He first bound Himself. For in raising nature above itself, He did not eliminate it; He made grace take hold of it and lead it to heaven; so that, joined together on earth by their divine Author, nature and grace were to be united for all eternity. We, then, being brethren by grace of Him who is ever thy grandson by nature, are, by this loving disposition of Divine Wisdom, quite at home under thy roof; and to-day's feast, so dear to the hearts of Jesus and Mary, is our own family feast.
Smile then, dear mother, upon our chants and bless our prayers. To-day and always be propitious to the supplications which our land of sorrows sends up to thee. Be gracious to wives and mothers, who confide to thee their holy desires and the secret of their sorrows. Keep up, were they still exist, the traditions of the Christian home. Over how many families has the baneful breath of this age passed, blighting all that is serious in life, weakening faith, leaving nothing but languor, weariness, frivolity, if not even worse, in the place of the true and solid joys of our fathers. How truly might the Wise Man say at the present day: Who shall find a valiant woman? She alone by her influence could counteract all these evils; but on condition of recognizing wherein her true strength lies: in humble household works done with her own hands; in hidden self-sacrificing devotedness; in watching by night; in hourly foresight; working in wool and flax, and with the spindle; all those strong things which win for her the confidence and praise of her husband; authority over all, abundance in the the house, blessing from the poor whom she has helped, honour from strangers, reverence from her children; and for herself in the fear of the Lord, nobility and dignity, beauty and strength, wisdom, sweetness and content, and calm assurance at the latter day. (Cf. Prov. Xxxi, 10-31)
O blessed Anne, rescue society, which is perishing for want of virtues like thine. The motherly kindnesses thou art ever more frequently bestowing upon us have increased the Church's confidence; deign to respond to the hopes she places in thee. Bless especially thy faithful Brittany; have pity on unhappy France, for which thou hast shown thy predilection, first, by so early confiding to it thy sacred body; later on, by choosing in it the spot whence thou wouldst manifest thyself to the world; and, again, quite recently entrusting to its sons the church and seminary dedicated to thy honour in Jerusalem. O thou who lovest the Franks, who deignest still to look on fallen Gaul as the kingdom of Mary continue to show it that love which is its most cherished tradition. Mayest thou become known throughout the whole world. As for us, who have long known thy power and experienced thy goodness, let us ever seek in thee, O mother, our rest, security, strength in every trial; for he who leans on thee has nothing to fear on earth, and he who rests in thy arms is safely carried. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Time after Pentecost, Book IV, Volume 13, pp. 194-196.)
Dom Prosper Gueranger’s touching plea to Saint Anne to save his own native France, which had fallen so low even before the French Revolution and lower still seventy years thereafter as he wrote The Liturgical Year can be applied in our own day to the United States of America. Perhaps even more pertinent, the Abbot of Solesmes’s prayer can be applied to the state of the Church Militant in this time of apostasy and betrayal.
As one who was spent her time contemplating Heavenly mysteries even while fulfilling her duties as a wife and mother, Saint Anne detested that which many of us have had far too great a familiarity in our lives, sin. It is appropriate, therefore, for those who us who are penitents in need of making reparation for our sins to pray the following prayer to Saint Anne as found in The Raccolta:
With my heart full of the most sincere veneration, I prostrate myself before thee, O glorious Saint Anne. Thou art the creature of privilege and predilection, who by thy extraordinary virtues and holiness didst merit from God the high favor of giving life to her who is the Treasury of all graces, blessed among women, the Mother of the Word Incarnate, the most holy Virgin Mary. By virtue of so lofty a privilege do thou deign, O most compassionate Saint, to receive me into the number of thy true clients, for so I profess myself and so I desire to remain throughout my entire life.
Shield me with thine effectual patronage and obtain for me from God the power to imitate those virtues wherewith thou wast so plentifully adorned. Grant that I may know and weep over my sins in bitterness of heart. Obtain for me the grace of most active love for Jesus and Mary and resolution to fulfill the duties of my state of life with faithfulness and constancy. Save me from every danger that confronts me in life, and help me at the hour of death, that so I may come in safety in paradise, there to sing with thee, O most happy mother, the praises of the World of God made Man in the womb of thy most pure daughter, the Virgin Mary. Amen.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be, three times. (The Raccolta: A Manual of Indulgences, Prayers and Devotions Enriched with Indulgences, approved by Pope Pius XII, May 30, 1951, and published in English by Benziger Brothers, New York, 1957, Number 494, pp. 380-381. An indulgence of 300 days, once a day. A plenary indulgence once a month, on the usual conditions, for the daily repetition of this prayer.)
As Good Saint Anne is forever linked in Heaven to her holy husband, Saint Joachim, and so it must be also in our prayers, which is why the following prayer to Saint Joachim is offered to the readers of this site:
O holy Joachim, husband of Anne, father of the Blessed Virgin, bestow on thy servants here help and salvation. (The Raccolta: A Manual of Indulgences, Prayers and Devotions Enriched with Indulgences, approved by Pope Pius XII, May 30, 1951, and published in English by Benziger Brothers, New York, 1957, Number 490, pp. 376-377. An indulgence of 300 days, once a day.)
A blessed Feast of Good Saint Anne to you all!
Our Lady of the Rosary, us.
Saint Anne, pray for us.
Saint Joachim, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.