O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarate Son, grant through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. Through our Lord.
Of St. Anne we have no certain knowledge. She is not mentioned in the New Testament, and we must depend on apocryphal literature, chiefly the Protoevangelium of James, which dates back only to the second century.
In this document, we are told that Anne, wife of Joachim, was advanced in years and that her prayers for a child had not been answered.
Once as she prayed beneath a laurel tree near her home in Galilee, an angel appeared and said to her, "Anne, the Lord hath heard thy prayer and thou shalt conceive and bring forth, and thy seed shall be spoken of in all the world." Anne replied, "As the Lord my God liveth, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it shall minister to Him in holy things all the days of its life".
And thus Anne became the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Devotion of St. Anne was known in the East in the fifth century, but it was not diffused in the West until the thirteenth. A shrine at Douai, in northern France, was one of the early centers of the devotion. In 1382, her feast was extended to the whole Western Church, and she became very popular, especially in France.
The two most famous shrines to Saint Anne are at St. Anne d'Auray in Brittany and at St. Anne-de Beaupre in the province of Quebec.
"Good Saint Anne" is the patroness of housewives, women in labor, cabinet-makers, and miners. Her emblem is a door. St. Anne has been frequently represented in art, and the lovely face depicted by Leonardo da Vinci comes first to mind in this connection. The name Anne derives from the Hebrew Hannah, meaning "grace."
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SAINTS ANNE AND JOACHIM MODEL SIMPLICITY OF LIFE FOR THE MARRIED
While making retreat last week, I reread some of the Rules St. Ignatius gives as appendices to the Spiritual Exercises, notably those for Thinking, Feeling and Judging with the Church, which I shall return to later this week. But in the Rules for the Distributing Alms, I noticed this point on the simple life-style of the bishop in imitation of Our Lord, and that married couples should also have simplicity, taking as their model Christ's grandparents Sts. Joachim and Anne:
For the reasons already mentioned and for many others, it is always better and more secure in what touches one’s person and condition of life to spare more and diminish and approach more to our High Priest, our model and rule, who is Christ our Lord; conformably to what the third Council of Carthage, in which St. Augustine was present, determines and orders—that the furniture of the Bishop be cheap and poor. (Sp. Exx. 344, 1-3)
The same should be considered in all manners of life, looking at and deciding according to the condition and state of the persons; as in married life we have the example of St. Joachim and of St. Ann, who, dividing their means into three parts, gave the first to the poor, and the second to the ministry and service of the Temple, and took the third for the support of themselves and of their household. (Sp. Exx. 344, 4-6)
In making these observations, Ignatius was probably influenced by a book important in his conversion, the Life of Jesus Christ by Ludolf of Saxony.
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CANADA AND DEVOTION TO SAINT ANNE
Who does not know about the great shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupre in Canada, where miracles abound, where cured cripples leave their crutches, and where people come from thousands of miles to pray to the grandmother of Jesus? At one time, July 26 was the feast of St. Anne only, but with the new calendar the two feasts of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been joined and are celebrated today [note: except in Quebec, where St. Anne is the patron of the civil and ecclesiastical Province and where her day is celebrated as a feast rather than a simple memorial].
There is a church of St. Anne in Jerusalem and it is believed to be built on the site of the home of SS. Joachim and Anne, when they lived in Jerusalem (excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens)
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The Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré has been a place of pilgrimage for the past 350 years. It has never stopped growing despite numerous obstacles.
There is one common thread that can explain how such a phenomenon could exist for so long: faith in God and confidence in Saint Anne. .
Firstly, this phenomenon is tied to the Christian Faith. We discovered Saint Anne through her blood relationship with Jesus the Redeemer. She was the mother of the Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus, a woman of Jewish faith who believed in the God of the Bible.
Secondly, people have confidence in Saint Anne. She has always given astounding proof of her presence and affection towards her grandchildren, to such an extent that Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré has been called "The land of miracles".
Since the very beginning of the French colony, this devotion has been at the heart of our people. It has enlightened them and has helped them face hardships and difficulties of all kinds, by giving them a source of light and consolation, of comfort and joy.
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The Native People of Canada have a spiritual resonance with devotion to the Grandmother of Jesus. This is manifest at Lac Sainte Anne in Alberta as described by Ramon Gonzalez in today's online edition of the Western Catholic Reporter (www.wcr.ab.ca):
They came by tens of thousands to the shores of Lac Ste. Anne to seek healing.
"We all need to be healed; that's why we are here," said Grouard-McLennan Archbishop Gerard Pettipas.
"We all want to go into the blessed waters (of Lac Ste. Anne) because past experience has told us that there is healing in these waters. There is a new spirit and a new life."
At the end of the July 18 Mass, Pettipas and the congregation walked in procession down to the shore of the lake and blessed it. As he did, dozens of pilgrims waded into the waters in the hope of finding healing - both physical and spiritual. Some filled plastic jars with the blessed liquid to take back home.
The procession and blessing of the lake are rituals engraved in the annual Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage, that this year ran July 17-22.
"I come here for healing and for cleansing," said Wabasca nurse Pauline Auger, as she stood knee-deep in the lake beside her friend Dorothy Badger. "I have sore knees and I come here so I can dip them in the water so that I can walk better. I also pray that my children and grandchildren will not drink much alcohol."
"I came because I want to get better," added Badger. "I have sore knees and sore legs (because) of arthritis and I am a diabetic. Now I feel the pain is more manageable. I feel a little better."
Holding hands, a group of women pray the rosary. Nearby is a man with his hands upraised to heaven. He is Chief White Buffalo Man (of) Many Feathers from Coldstream, B.C. This is his first year at Lac Ste. Anne.
"I'm praying for the people," he declares. "I pray for healing and forgiveness. I pray for guidance - that they find their own purpose in life and that all would be forgiven."
The roots of the pilgrimage date back to 1844 when Father Jean-Baptiste Thibault blessed the lake - then called Manito Sakahigan or Spirit Lake - and renamed it in honour of St. Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary. Before 1844, aboriginal families and clans and tribes were drawn to its shores for ceremonial summer gatherings.
Four hundred people attended the first pilgrimage 120 years ago. Now it is a major pilgrimage destination - the largest event of its kind in North America. This year close to 55,000 pilgrims, mostly aboriginal and Métis, made their way to the lake.
Camped in tents and trailers along the south shore of the lake the pilgrims come from across Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Manitoba.