Who does not know about the great shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupre in the province of Quebec (for those who don't, a history of the shrine follows), 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. Our information about Mary's parents comes from an apocryphal Christian writing, the Protoevangelium Jacobi (or Gospel of James), written about the year 170. According to this story, Joachim was a prominent and respected man who had no children, and he and his wife, Anne, looked upon this as a punishment from God. In answer to their prayers, Mary was born and was dedicated to God at a very early age.
From this early Christian writing have come several of the feast days of Mary, particularly the Immaculate Conception, the Nativity of Mary, and her Assumption into Heaven. Very early also came feast days in honor of SS. Joachim and Anne, and in the Middle Ages numerous churches, chapels, and confraternities were dedicated to St. Anne. The couple early became models of Christian marriage, and their meeting at the Golden Gate in Jerusalem has been a favorite subject of Christian artists.
Anne is often shown in paintings with Jesus and Mary and is considered a subject that attracts attention, since Anne is the grandmother of Jesus. Her two great shrines - that of Ste. Anne d'Auray in Britanny, France, and that of Ste. Anne de Beaupre near the city of Quebec - are very popular. We know little else about the lives of Mary's parents, but considering the person of Mary, they must have been two very remarkable people to have been given such a daughter and to have played so important a part in the work of the Redemption.
The Story of Their Meeting at the Golden Gate in Jerusalem
An ancient story dating to the first centuries of the Church's life recalls how Saints Anne & Joachim, like Abraham and Sarah, were scorned by their neighbors because they had no children.
Years of longing did not weaken their trust in God, but grief eventually drove Saint Joachim into the wilderness to fast and pray. Saint Anne, remaining at home, dressed in mourning clothes and wept because she had no child of her own. Seeing her mistress distressed, a servant girl reminded Anne to put her trust in God. Saint Anne washed her face, put on her bridal clothes and went to a garden to plead with God for a child.
Angels appeared to Saint Anne in her garden and Saint Joachim in the desert, promising that, despite their old age, they would give birth to a child who would be known throughout the world. The new parents ran to meet one another at Jerusalem's Golden Gate, and with a kiss rejoiced in the new life which God had promised would be theirs.
Saints Anne and Joachim are powerful intercessors for all married couples, expectant mothers and married couples who are having difficulty conceiving, as well as all who have grown old.
St. Anne de Beaupre
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.
St Anne is the Mother of the Sacred Virgin Mary. Although the earliest reference to St Anne dates
back to a Christian manuscript in the second century AD she was not adopted as a Saint until the
15th Century by Pope Sixtus IV. At the time of European settlement of the area that would become
the St Lawrence shore of Quebec St Anne was widely venerated. St Anne is said to be the
protector from storms.
The first shrine to St Anne was built here in 1658. In 1876 the first Basilica was built on this site but it was destroyed by fire in 1922. The grand Basilica that stands here today was built in 1976 to replace the building that burned down. The Basilica contains 240 stained glass windows and the ceiling and walls are covered in mosaics depicting scenes from the life of St Anne. There is also an oak statue of St Anne with a golden crown set with diamonds, pearls and rubies here as well
The Basilica's biggest crowds are on St Anne's Feast Day, July 26 and the Sunday before Nativity of the Virgin Mary, September 8.
This location has been site of uncountable miraculous cures. The same year that the first shrine was constructed, 1658, a workman was suddenly cured at the site. That same year a shipload of sailors were spared when they entered a storm on the river near this site after they prayed to St Anne. In 1892 Pope Leo XIII sent a relic of St Anne to the church; during the journey to Canada a man with epilepsy was miraculously cured when he prayed to the container containing the relic.
St Anne is worshiped by the Native American tribes as "Grandmother in the faith."
There have truly been uncountable miracle and otherwise unexplainable cures given here by St Anne and the small chapel containing the statue of St Anne is filled with wheelchairs, crutches and letters of gratitude from those whom St Anne has healed.
Prayers to St. Anne and St. Joachim
Saints Anne and Joachim, we bless you for your great faith and love as parents. Your
respect and reverence for the sacredness of human life made you the parents of Mary,
Mother of the Lord.
Through your intercession, we ask God to grant young people today that same
reverence for the gift of new life. May they accept, cherish, and nourish life from the
very moment of conception.
Grant to us as a nation a renewed reverence for every human life. As Mary cherished her Child from the womb even to the tomb, so may we see in every person the very image of God.
Great Saints Anne and Joachim, we ask this grace in the name of Mary's Son, Jesus the Lord. Amen.
Good Saint Ann and Saint Joachim, parents of Mary and grandparents to Jesus, be with me and all grandparents that we may be wise and loving, may share our time and stories and sense of humour, and may enjoy and not spoil too much the grandchildren who are close to our hearts, for they are the sign of God's life to us.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph be with our grandchildren and all other grandchildren that they may love and respect their grandparents and all older people, may remember to call, visit or write, and grow in wisdom, age and grace before God. Amen.