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Saints Joachim and Anne: Love of Children, Love of God Printer friendly format

By Caitlin Bootsma
Consultant to the VIRTUS® Programs

It is easy to think that Saints Joachim and Anne got the raw end of the stick when it came to the Holy Family. AfterGrandfather and child all, Christ was the Son of God and Mary was conceived without sin. As the grandparents of Jesus and the parents of Mary, Joachim and Anne were certainly greatly blessed, but they were born with original sin, just like you and me.

However, it is precisely because they were born with the stain of sin that they are such wonderful patrons for parents and caregivers. To become saints in heaven, they had to overcome the same obstacles and temptations as we do. In fact, it may have been even more difficult to parent a child who never sinned-after all, how could you not feel inadequate as a parent when your daughter was to become the Mother of God?

Little is known or recorded about the lives of Jesus's grandparents. What we do know comes from Tradition, rather from the Scripture or any official record of the Church. However, there are some traits clearly present in Joachim and Anne that we can look to as an example in our ministry to children:

  • Love of Life: Tradition tells us that like Sarah and Abraham, Anne and Joachim suffered infertility. They longed to have a child. Their neighbors scorned their lack of children-which was probably especially hurtful considering how much they wanted a family. One day, at the encouragement of a servant girl, Anne dressed in her bridal clothes and went to a garden to pray, putting her trust in God. It is said that angels appeared to her and to Joachim, announcing that they would have a child who would be known throughout the world. 

  • Holy Marriage: How often are saints listed together by the Church? Rarely. When we celebrate the Feast of Saints. Joachim and Anne together, we are recognizing that part of their path to sainthood was their marriage and building a family together. In the current day, when the significance of marriage is underrated, we can look to the model of this man and woman who married one another, raised Mary to love God and both died and went to Heaven.

  • Raising a Child Who Loves God: We do not know the details of the way in which Joachim and Anne raised Mary. What we do know, however, is that by a young age, Mary loved the Lord enough to accept His Will for her life. Joachim and Anne undoubtedly fostered this love in Mary, helping her to understand that above any engagement or gossip entered into by the neighbors, seeking and embracing the Will of God is the purpose for our lives.

  • Caring Grandparents: As men and women who minister to children, we know well that parents are not the only ones who model the love of God to children. Centuries of sacred art depict St. Anne as part of Jesus's life. Paintings show her holding Him as a baby, watching encouragingly as Mary parents Him and even teaching Him from books and scrolls as He grows older. Christ's grandparents were, most likely, a reinforcement of the model of loving care that Mary showed Him each day.

  • A Holy Death: By their presence in Heaven, we know that Saints Anne and Joachim died in friendship with God. They did not achieve this in the grand ways of some other saints: riding to battle like St. Joan of Arc, reasoning with Popes like St. Catherine of Siena, or writing theological works like St. Thomas Aquinas. Rather, they grew in holiness because of the love they showed one another, their daughter Mary, and their grandson Jesus. 

In the lives of Saints Joachim and Anne, we see how loving one's family can have a tremendous effect on the world. By welcoming Mary into the world, nurturing her and raising her, they played a significant role in salvation history. As parents and as educators, we never know what incredible vocations the children in our care may be called to pursue. With Joachim and Anne as our models, though, we can guide the youth in our care in the path to holiness.


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What is your opinion?
Growing up, what role did grandparents play in your childhood?
They lived with me and were like another parent/parents
I saw them often and my childhood is full of memories of them
I saw them rarely and while I loved them, they had little direct impact on my life
They died when I was young or we were not in touch with them

Last Week's Poll   
What is it that makes the “Cheerios Dad” so great? (Feel free to follow the link in the article to take a look!)?
His involvement in daily family life
His obvious love for his family
How his life reminds you of yourself and/or other dads you know
I did not watch the commercial

Total Votes: 1263