During my high school and college years, our family lived in St. Anne’s parish in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. I have memories of the church being filled for the annual novena for the nine days preceding St. Anne’s July 26th feast day. My husband gave me my engagement ring in St. Anne’s church, and we were married there. When we return to Cleveland, we visit or attend Mass at St. Anne’s.
Most of us homeschooling mothers, and grandmothers, have a special place in our hearts for St. Anne, whose feast day we celebrate along with her husband, St. Joachim. St. Anne spent years in prayer, asking for the gift of a child. Her husband joined her in these prayers, especially since the Jewish community looked on them both as disfavored by God. They went through many years of personal heartbreak and community disapproval.
Year after year, Anne prayed daily asking God for a child. Even when she was past the age of having children, she continued to pray for a child, as did her husband. The traditional belief is that Joachim would spend days in the fields with his sheep herd, often away from the critical Jewish community, to spend time in silent prayer and meditation.
Meanwhile, Anne, even when she was in her late years, remained faithful in her daily prayers and petitions to God. It is believed that she promised God that if He sent her a child, she would present her child in the Temple, “as a gift to the Lord,” as one Church-blessed visionary wrote.
The traditional belief is that both Anne and Joachim, separately, received a heavenly visitor, an angel, informing them that they would have a special child, a child who would be remembered until the end of time. Joachim returned from the fields and stayed with Anne, as they both believed, without any doubt, in the words of the angel.
Anne and Joachim’s prayers were finally answered by the birth of little Mary. While Anne and Joachim knew their baby girl was going to be special, they were surely amazed. Writings by various blesseds and saints tell that Anne and Joachim were awed by the child’s holiness, knowledge, and perception. She did not need to “learn” as other children. She had such a great depth of understanding about the truths of God that both Anne and Joachim actually learned from her.
Anne had not planned to send her daughter Mary to live in the Temple at such a young age, but she and her husband realized that God had given them someone special who was not to live with them but who had a special mission from Heaven.
When Mary was only three years old, they presented her to the Temple priest. Her level of knowledge and holiness was quickly recognized by those in the Temple. Some believe that the Temple priest was informed by Heaven that Mary was a special child sent from God to be protected in the Temple.
As a wife and mother, and finally a grandmother of the Son of God, St. Anne can be an inspiration to us homeschooling mothers as we go through the various stages of our family life. She certainly is a patron for those who want to have a child, those who are pregnant, as well as those who are teaching their children at home. As Anne and Joachim protected Mary from the general society, we homeschooling parents can ask St. Anne to protect us and our children. We can certainly pray for her to help our children develop a love for Jesus and a greater understanding of the truths that Jesus taught.
“O glorious St. Anne, you are filled with compassion for those who invoke you and with love for those who suffer! Heavily burdened with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at your feet and humbly beg of you to take the present intention which I recommend to you in your special care. Please recommend it to your daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and place it before the throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy issue. Continue to intercede for me until my request is granted. But, above all, obtain for me the grace one day to see my God face to face, and with you and Mary and all the saints to praise and bless Him for all eternity. Amen.” (Official Novena Prayer)
Header Image CC Nheyob