Saint of the Day – 26 July – St Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Grandmother of Jesus. The name Anne from the Hebrew commonly believed to mean “grace” but St Augustine says (City of God) that it in fact means ,“by the grace of God.”
Patronages – against poverty, against sterility or infertility, broommakers, cabinetmakers, carpenters,of childless couples, equestrians, expectant mothers and mothers, childbirth, grandmothers, grandparents, housewives, lace makers, lost articles, miners, old-clothes dealers, the poor,, seamstresses, stablemen, turners, Canada, France, Micmaqs, 4 Diocese, 18 Cities.
St. Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary
By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)
St Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin, was a native of Bethlehem, a City two miles distant from Jerusalem, frequently mentioned in Holy Writ. Having passed her youth in unstained purity, she was married to a man named Joachim, who was born at Nazareth in Galilee, with whom she lived in such love and harmony and, at the same time, so piously, that one could justly say of them, what St. Luke writes of Zachary and Elizabeth: “They were both just before God, walking in all the commandments and justifications of the Lord without blame.” They divided their income into three parts, the first of which was used for the honour of God and to adorn the Temple, the second to assist the poor and the third, for their own subsistence. They employed the day in prayer, work suitable to their station in life and charitable deeds.
Their only grief was, that, although so long married, they had no issue and a barren marriage was, at that time, considered a disgrace, nay almost a sign of a Divine curse. Saddened by this sorrow, St Anne, as well as her spouse, prayed with many sighs and tears, that God would take pity on them and remove the disgrace that was weighing them down. But when, after having prayed long and earnestly, they were not heard, they determined to bear patiently the will of the Almighty. As, however, St Anne knew that God required continual prayer and ,that He had not given to men a certain time to ask for grace, she ceased not to implore eaven with great confidence, for all that she believed was for His honour and her own salvation .
Being one day in the Temple, she felt her distress so deeply, that she wept bitterly,but she remembered, at the same time, that there had been another Anne, spouse of Elcana, who had been afflicted as she was but whose prayers, God at last had answered, making her the mother of the great prophet Samuel. While thinking of this, she perceived in herself, an invincible desire to beg the Lord for a like grace. Hence, she repeated her prayer with earnest fervour, promising, at the same time, that if God would grant her a child, she would consecrate it in the Temple, to His Divine service, as the above-mentioned Anne had done.
God answered the trusting, tearful prayer of His servant,and sent her, according to the opinion of the Holy Fathers, an Angel, who announced to her that she would give birth to a child who blessed among women, would become the Mother of the long expected Saviour of the world. It is also believed, that the Angel told St Anne the name which she should give to the blessed fruit of her womb. The same revelation was made to St Joachim and the happiness of both and their gratitude to the Almighty, can be easily imagined. Their happiness was crowned when St Anne gave birth to her, who was elected by God from all eternity, to become the Mother of His Only Son.
Who can describe the joy with which Anne pressed her newborn child to her heart, or the solicitude and love with which she brought it up? The knowledge that her blessed daughter was chosen by God to so great a dignity, was incentive enough, to leave nothing undone for her welfare. The mind of the blessed child was so far beyond her years and her whole being, so angelically innocent, that her education was an easy task and St Anne deemed herself, the happiest mother in the world because God had entrusted to her, so priceless a child. The graces which, through the presence of the Blessed Virgin, she received from Heaven, cannot but have been innumerable . For if, in after times, the house of Elizabeth and Zachary was, by a visit from Mary, filled with Heavenly blessings, who can doubt, that St Anne, who was the mother of the Blessed Virgin, was gifted with extraordinary graces?
Knowing, however, that Mary was not only a precious treasure lent her by Heaven but also, had consecrated herself to the service of the Almighty, St Anne did not fail to return to God, what she had received from Him and to offer willingly, what she had so willingly promised. Hardly had Mary reached the age of three years, when Anne and Joachim went with her to the temple at Jerusalem and presenting her to the Priest, consecrated her through him to the Almighty. Nothing could have been more painful to the pious parents than to separate from so perfect a child but, as they were more zealous for the glory of God, than for their own joy, even though it was so pious, they made this sacrifice without complaining. Thus Mary was received among the number of those who, under the direction of the priests, served God in the Temple and were led in the path of virtue.
After they had piously offered this agreeable sacrifice, the parents of the Blessed Virgin returned home and spent the remainder of their days in good works, which were continued by St Anne, when she became a widow by the death of her holy spouse. As she had been an example to the virgins, before her marriage, as well as a perfect model of a wife, so also was she, in her widowhood, a shining light, for all those qualities which St Paul,afterwards required of a Christian widow, in his first Epistle to Timothy. She went frequently to Jerusalem to see her holy daughter and died, according to several authors, in the 79th year of her age. Mary, who at that time still lived in the temple, closed her eyes.
As one cannot give to the Blessed Virgin a higher title than to call her, Mother of God, thus St Anne, cannot be more exalted, than when she is called the mother of her, who bore the Son of God. And for the very reason, that she was chosen to be her mother, we must believe, that the Almighty favoured her here upon earth, with grace above all the Saints and raised her to high glory in Heaven. Hence we may rightly suppose, that her intercession with God, is most powerful and this is also testified by many examples.