Saints Joachim and Anne

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

Today we remember the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saints Joachim and Anne (or Anna). These names come to us from the Protoevangelium of James, one of the apocryphal gospels. This particular document dates back to the 2nd Century. The names of the parents of the Blessed Virgin are never mentioned in the four Gospels of the Christian Scriptures. The names themselves tell us something about the devotion that has grown about these two people who are venerated as the grandparents of Jesus.

The name Joachim means "Yahweh prepares," and the name Anna or Hannah means "favor" or "grace." The author of the Protoevangelium is, therefore, commenting on the person of the Blessed Mother rather than on her biological parents. Joachim and Anna become examples of God's plan for our salvation. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was disposed to accept God's will in her life as recorded in the Gospel of St. Luke. Our knowledge of human behavior suggests that that disposition is partly due to the nurture and education she received from her parents. God used these two good people to bring the promise of salvation to fruition.

Devotion to these two has been a constant in the life of the Church ever since the 2nd Century. This is particularly true of St. Anne. Today, the site of the home of Saints Joachim and Anna is a popular stop on any tour of the Holy Land. A church stands over the supposed relic. As we remember them today, we join with the millions of people who have found in their story proof of God's enduring, unfailing love for us.

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