Sts. Joachim and Anne remind grandparents of their important role

by Donal Anthony Foley

anne11bJuly 26 is the Memorial of Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of the Virgin Mary and grandparents of Jesus Christ. This year, it coincides with World Youth Day taking place in Krakow, Poland, July 25-31.

Sts. 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 certainly 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 is literature which 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 which 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 Sam: 1].

The holiness of Saints Joachim and Anne is something we can be completely sure of, and there ought to be much more devotion to them, especially from grandparents!

It is appropriate that World Youth Day coincides with this feast day, given how important the sway of grandparents on their grandchildren can be. 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.

The last World Youth Day St. John Paul II attended was in Toronto in 2002. He spoke to the 800,000 young people gathered with him at the vigil: “When back in 1985, I wanted to start the World Youth Days … I imagined a powerful moment in which the young people of the world could meet Christ, who is eternally young, and could learn from him how to be bearers of the Gospel to other young people. This evening, together with you, I praise God and give thanks to him for the gift bestowed on the Church through the World Youth Days. Millions of young people have taken part, and as a result have become better and more committed Christian witnesses.”

St. John Paul II left a wonderful legacy in the World Youth Days, one which has been carried on by his successors. Perhaps what we need now is a World Grandparents Day!


Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, including Marian Apparitions, the Bible, and the Modern World, and maintains a related web site at He has also a written a time-travel/adventure book for young people available in our Gift Shop.



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