by Donal Anthony Foley –
July 26 is the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of the Virgin Mary and grandparents of Jesus Christ, and the Pope has instituted a World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly to be celebrated this year on Sunday, July 25.
Joachim and Anne are not mentioned in the New Testament, but this should not surprise us since we learn very little about Mary’s background in the Gospels. The sacred writers were not so much concerned with giving such details as proclaiming the saving message of Christ.
We can presume that since Mary was immaculately conceived and thus, totally sinless, then Joachim and Anne must have been very holy in themselves to have been so privileged to bear such a daughter who bore the Son of God. Even though Mary was full of grace from her conception, on a human level she would have been molded by her parents’ good example and personal holiness, which is a lesson in itself for parents and grandparents.
The information we do have about Joachim and Anne, including their names, comes from the apocryphal books. This literature is not part of the canon of the biblical books, but there are good grounds for believing that the information they contain about Joachim and Anne is historical data that ultimately comes from trustworthy traditions or documents. As such, the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, based on the traditional belief that Joachim and Anne brought Mary to the Temple in Jerusalem as a child, at about the age of three, in order to consecrate her to God, just as Samuel’s mother brought him as a young child to the Sanctuary at Shiloh (1 Sm 1).
The holiness of Sts. Joachim and Anne is something we can be completely sure of, and there ought to be much more devotion to them, especially from grandparents!
Quite often, it is the grandparents who are in the best position to reach out to their grandchildren and pass on the Faith to them. We can imagine the influence Joachim and Anne would have had on Jesus as he grew up, how they would have cherished and loved him, taught him about their Faith, and given an example of virtuous lives.
Pope institutes World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly
In January, Pope Francis announced the institution of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, to be celebrated on the 4th Sunday, closest to the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne. Pope instituted this, he said, because, “grandparents are often forgotten, and we forget this wealth of preserving roots and passing on” what the elderly have received.
He emphasized the importance of grandparents and grandchildren getting to know one another, because “as the prophet Joel says, grandparents seeing their grandchildren dream,” while “young people, drawing strength from their grandparents, will go forward and prophesy.”
The World Apostolate of Fatima will join in this celebration everywhere to focus on the importance of the family and the great contribution of grandparents and the elderly to this crucial institution of the domestic Church, so deeply rooted in the Message of Our Lady of Fatima.
Please join us for a Triduum of Masses in honor of Sts. Anne and Joachim for the elderly and grandparents living and deceased, July 24 – 26, at the National Blue Army Shrine. If you wish to enroll your loved one in these Masses, you can do so here.