Although they are unmentioned in the Bible, the lives of Sts. Joachim and Ann have been gleaned from an apocryphal Christian writing, the Protoevangelium Jacobi, or Gospel of James, written about the year 170. As the story goes, Joachim was a prominent, respected man; yet he and his wife, Ann, for many years had no children. At that time, that was viewed as a punishment from God, so they prayed and asked for a child. This is why she is the patroness of childless couples, pregnancy, and many more (see below).
What was it like to raise not only a Saint, but the Mother of God? I wish there were writings on that. Still, I picture it something like this photo: With Ann teaching Mary her “Catechism”, and how to tend to a household, and little Mary faithfully and sweetly learning and growing. We do know that Joachim and Ann were people of faith, and raised Mary in such a way to be worthy of her calling. They did not waste any time either, as Mary was only about 12 or 13 when Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
On the vigil of Sts. Joachim & Ann’s feast last night, the Hispanic and English groups joined together to celebrate our Patroness. About twice a year, our thriving Parish in Texas, St. Ann, combines the English and Spanish choirs to sing for bilingual liturgies. It’s very lively and moving – even us musicians were moved to tears during parts of the Mass. Since Ann & Joachim were Jesus’ Grandparent, we honored the Grandparents of our community — they joined the procession, carrying white flowers and placing them in vases on the altar. With 8 priests and deacons celebrating the Mass, and so many choir members to overfill the risers, it was a beautiful liturgy.
Here’s more about Anne & Joachim, from The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens:
Anne: against poverty; barren; broommakers; cabinetmakers; carpenters; childless couples; equestrians; grandmothers; grandparents; homemakers; housewives; lace makers; lace workers; lost articles; miners; mothers; old-clothes dealers; pregnancy; pregnant women; horse riders; seamstresses; stablemen; sterility; turners; women in labour; Brittany; Canada; France; Quebec; archdiocese of Detroit, Michigan; diocese of Norwich, Connecticut; Santa Ana Indian Pueblo; Taos, New Mexico.
Joachim: fathers, grandfathers, grandparents.
Anne: Book, symbol of her careful instruction of Mary; flowering rod; crown; nest of young birds; door; Golden Gate of Jerusalem; book; infant Virgin in crib; Shield has silver border masoned in black, with silver lily on a blue field referring to the girlhood of the Virgin.
Often Portrayed As: Woman holding Mary or Jesus in her arms or lap; Woman at her betrothal to Joachim; Mother teaching Mary to read the Bible; Woman greeting Saint Joachim at Golden Gate; Woman with a book in her hand.
Joachim: Basket containing doves; model of Golden Gate of Jerusalem.
Often Portrayed As: Man bringing a lamb to the altar and being turned away by the priest; greeting and/or kissing Saint Anne at the Golden Gate; elderly man carrying a basket of doves and a staff; elderly man with the child Mary.