On the liturgical calendar today is the feast of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne: parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, grandparents of Jesus and St. Joseph's in-laws. (That's all of them to the left!) Yes, Jesus had grandparents and Joachim and Anne are fitting patron saints for our own grandparents - and for our in-laws, too. The scriptures tell us nothing of Mary's parents but legend and tradition assign them the names this day celebrates.
It was in the womb of her mother, Anne, that Mary was immaculately conceived. Although many Catholics are confused on this point, the Immaculate Conception refers to Mary's conception in Anne's womb, not Jesus' conception in Mary's womb.
I have a particular affection for St. Anne and her holy family for a number of reasons. When I was a child, my parents brought my sister and me to the shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre, just outside of Quebec city in Canada. It was a memorable trip on which we also visited Notre Dame du Cap.
My first assignment after ordination (1973) was to St. Ann Parish in the Wollaston section of Quincy. The people of there warmly welcomed a newly ordained priest who made plenty of mistakes in his first years in ministry! After five years in Wollaston, I went to study and work at the University of Notre Dame, returning in 1978 to begin nine years of campus ministry at Northeastern University and Emerson College at St. Ann University Parish in the Back Bay. Having been assigned to two parishes under the patronage of St. Anne, interrupted by four years at the University named for Anne's daughter, Our Lady, I was not surprised to be assigned in 1991 to St. Joseph Parish in Medway, named after Mary's husband.
From there I was assigned to another parish under Mary's watchful care, Our Lady Help of Christians, and then to Holy Family, a parish named after Mary, Joseph and Jesus! No small coincidence: St. Bernard Church is named for a saint who had a particular devotion to Mary and to whom is attributed the beautiful prayer, the Memorare.
Happy feast of St. Joachim and St. Anne to you all!
The icon above, Whole Holy Family, is by Bro. Michael McGrath depicting Anne and Joachim, Mary and Joseph, the Christ Child, the Holy Spirit and a couple of pets from the Holy Household!
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