Story of St. Anne
(Adapted from the Church of St. Anne, Rockhill, SC)
St. Anne was born in Bethlehem and married Joachim from Nazareth in Galilee. Joachim was a shepherd given the task of supplying the temple of Jerusalem with sheep for sacrifices.
After 20 years of marriage Anne and Joachim had no children. Once, when Joachim overheard ridicule because of their childless state, he is said to have gone into the desert to plead with God to give them a child. After a time of fasting an angel appeared to assure Joachim that he and Anne would be given a child they were to name Mary and dedicate to God.
In the meantime, St. Anne wondered where her husband had gone and in her despair at having been barren she also prayed while she watched newborn birds in their nests in her garden. She cried out, “Why was I born, Lord?”
That is when angel appeared to tell her she would soon give birth to a daughter she was to name Mary. The story continues with Anne and Joachim’s joyous reunion at the golden gate of Jerusalem where Anne told Joachim that she was with child.
After her birth, Anne and Joachim dedicated Mary to God at the temple of Jerusalem and she spent much of her childhood there. When Mary was 14 they betrothed her to Joseph of Nazareth and so Mary’s story continues with the birth of her son Jesus and his life on earth.
The life of St. Anne and her connection as holy mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus was very popular to early Christians. In the year 550 a church was built in honor of St. Anne in Jerusalem. It is believed to be near where Anne, Joachim and Mary lived.
Since the seventh century, the Greek and Russian churches have celebrated feasts honoring St. Joachim and St. Anne. The western churches began to celebrate the feast of St. Anne in the sixteenth century.
The feast of St. Anne is July 26. There is no mention of Anne in the New Testament. The story of St. Anne comes chiefly from the Protoevangelium of James which only dated back to the second century.
St. Anne, patron saint of mothers and women in labor and minors, is symbolized by Mary in her lap holding the infant Jesus.
The symbols normally associated with St. Anne are:
The books that show her careful instruction of Mary.
The crown of motherhood.
The nest of young birds.
The door or portal.
The Golden Gate of Jerusalem.
The infant Virgin in crib.
The shield of St Anne has a silver border masoned in black, with silver lily on a blue field referring to the girlhood of the Virgin. She often is pictured as the woman holding Mary or Jesus in her arms or lap; woman at her betrothal to Joachim; mother teaching Mary to read the Bible; woman greeting St. Joachim at Golden Gate; woman with a book in her hand.
The symbols for Joachim are:
A basket containing doves
The Golden Gate of Jerusalem.
Joachim is pictured as a man bringing a lamb to the altar; greeting and/or kissing St. Anne at the Golden Gate, or an elderly man carrying a basket of doves, or an elderly man with the child Mary.
The most celebrated sight of St. Anne feast day is the annual 10-day St. Anne’s Solemn Novena made at St. Anne’s Monastery Church at the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec, Canada. The novena ends July 26, the feast of St Anne.
Traditional Prayers to St. Anne
St Anne teaches us that patient continual prayer can bring about fruition in one’s life. Prayer can help us to keep our focus, to center our values and to bring our lives to a greater thanksgiving. The following prayers have been recommended by the church as prayers to St. Anne, patron of parents, grandparents, pregnant mothers, women in labor, women who want to be pregnant, single women, and educators.
Parents Prayer to St. Anne
We call upon you, dear St. Anne, for help in bringing up our family in good and godly ways. Teach us to trust God our Father as we rear the precious heritage entrusted to us. May God’s will prevail in our lives and God’s providence defend us. These blessings we ask for all families in our neighborhood, our country, and our world. Amen.
St. Anne Prayer
Good St. Anne, you were especially favored by God to be the mother of the most holy Virgin Mary, the Mother of our Savior. By your power with your most pure daughter and with her divine Son, kindly obtain for us the grace and the favor we now seek. Please secure for us also forgiveness of our past sins, the strength to perform faithfully our daily duties and the help we need to persevere in the love of Jesus and Mary. Amen.
Prayer to St. Anne
Lord, God of our fathers, through Sts. Joachim and Anne, you gave us the Mother of Your Incarnate Son. May their prayers help us to attain the salvation promised to your people. Amen.
St. Anne Prayer
Good St. Anne, obtain for me an increase of faith in the great mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Help me to see in this great Sacrament Christ our High Priest, making real for me the saving grace of His death on the cross; feeding my soul with His Flesh and Blood so that I may live in Him and He in me; producing the unity of the people of God and gathering His Church together. By your powerful intercession with God, help me to center my life around the altar that I may inherit the promise of the Lord: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, has life everlasting.” Amen.
Prayer to St. Anne for Special Needs
We thank you, dear St. Anne, for the favors, known and unknown, you have obtained for us. Assured of your constant love, we bring our special needs to you (mention them here). Mother of the Mother of the Eternal Word made flesh, kindly recommend to your Grandson, Jesus, these intentions we lift to you in confident prayer. Amen.
Children’s Prayer to St. Anne
Good St. Anne, you must have loved your parents just like we love our Moms and our Dads. They love us so much and take care of all our needs. Help us to make them happy every day. Thank you, dear Grandmother of Jesus, for listening to our prayer. Amen.
Teenager’s Prayer to St. Anne
Dear St. Anne, Mother of the Mother of God-become-human, please bless our parents who said “yes” to life. Warm our hearts with love for them. May we give them every reason for joy, not distress. Into your hands we commit our future. Teach us to say “yes” to God’s plan for us in all the years ahead. Amen.
A Memorare to St. Anne
We remember, dear St. Anne, that your name means “grace.” Confident in your power before the Throne of Grace, we implore your intercession. Share with us the faith, hope, and love that made your life a tribute of praise to the Lord God Almighty. May our days be grace filled and secure under your protection. Amen.
Daily St. Anne’s Prayer
Dear St. Anne, you never tire of assisting those who recommend themselves to you. Trusting not in our merits but in your powerful intercession, we request your help through this present day with all its duties and responsibilities, all its situations whether happy or anguishing. And when “tomorrow” becomes today, assist us anew for God’s glory and our good. Amen.
Rosary Prayer (Chaplet) of St. Anne
The Chaplet of St. Anne consists of three groups of five beads, separated by a single bead.
The first group of beads say: “In honor of Jesus,” 1 Our Father and 5 Hail Mary’s. After each Hail Mary say:” Jesus, Mary and St. Anne, grant the favor I request.”
The second group of beads say: “In honor of Mary,” 1 Our Father and 5 Hail Mary’s. After each Hail Mary say: “Jesus, Mary and St. Anne, grant the favor I request.”
The third group of beads say: “In honor of St. Anne,” 1 Our Father and 5 Hail Mary’s. After each Hail Mary say: “Jesus, Mary and St. Anne, grant the favor I request.”
Chaplet of St. Anne
Litany of St. Anne
The Story of Anne and Joachim
Discovering our Saints: Joachim and Anne
Basilica of St Anne, Quebec
St. Anne and Hannah of the Old Testament
The story of St. Anne bears a similarity to that of the birth of Samuel, whose mother Hannah also had been childless. Although Anne received little attention in the Latin Church prior to the late 12th century, dedications to Anne in Eastern Christianity occurred as early as the 6th century.
In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Hannah is ascribed the title Forebearer of God, and both the Nativity of Mary and the Presentation of Mary are celebrated as two of the twelve Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church. The Dormition of Hannah is also a minor feast in Eastern Christianity.
Anne (Arabic romanized into Ḥannah) also is revered in Islam, recognized as a highly spiritual woman and as the mother of Mary. The Qur’an describes Hanna remaining childless until her old age. One day, Hannah saw a bird feeding its young while sitting in the shade of a tree, which awakened her desire to have children of her own. She prayed for a child and eventually conceived; her husband, Imran, died before the child was born. Expecting the child to be male, Hannah vowed to dedicate him to isolation and service in the Second Temple.
However, Hannah bore a daughter instead, and named her Mary. Her words upon delivering Mary reflect her status as a great mystic, realizing that while she had wanted a son, this daughter was God’s gift to her: “My Lord! Truly, I brought her forth, a female. And God is greater in knowledge of what she brought forth.” So her Lord received her with the very best acceptance.
Early Traditions about St. Anne
Although the canonical books of the New Testament never mention the mother of the Virgin Mary, traditions about her family, childhood, education, and eventual betrothal to Joseph developed very early in the history of the church.
Ancient belief, attested to by a sermon of John of Damascus, was that Anne married once. In the Late Middle Ages, legend held that Anne was married three times: first to Joachim, then to Clopas and finally to a man named Solomas and that each marriage produced one daughter: Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Salome, respectively. The sister of St. Anne was Sobe, mother of Elizabeth.
In the 4th century and then much later in the 15th century, a belief arose that Mary was conceived of Anne without Original sin. This belief was however already implicitly present in the idea of Mary as the New Eve, present in the 2nd century writers St Justin Martyr, St Irenaeus and Tertullian, and also in St Paul (1 Cor.11:12). This belief in the Immaculate Conception states that God preserved Mary’s body and soul intact and sinless from her first moment of existence, through the merits of Jesus Christ. The Immaculate Conception was made dogma in the Catholic church by Pope Pius IX in 1854.
In the Eastern church, the cult of Anne herself may go back as far as c. 550, when Justinian built a church in Constantinople in her honor. The earliest pictorial sign of her veneration in the West is an 8th-century fresco in the church of Santa Maria Antiqua, Rome. A shrine at Douai, in northern France, was one of the early centers of devotion to St. Anne in the West.
Two well-known shrines to St. Anne are that of Ste. Anne d’Auray in Brittany, France; and that of Ste. Anne de Beaupré near the city of Québec. The number of visitors to the Basilica of Ste. Anne de Beaupré is greatest on St Anne’s Feast Day, July 26, and the Sunday before Nativity of the Virgin Mary, Sept. 8. In 1892, Pope Leo XIII sent a relic of St Anne to the church.
In the Maltese language, the Milky Way galaxy is called It-Triq ta’ Sant’Anna, literally “The Way of St. Anne.”
In the United States, the Daughters of the Holy Spirit named the former Annhurst College in her honor.
The supposed relics of St. Anne were brought from the Holy Land to Constantinople in 710 and were kept there in the church of St. Sophia as late as 1333.
During the 12th and 13th centuries, returning crusaders and pilgrims from the East brought relics of Anne to a number of churches, including most famously those at Apt, in Provence, Ghent, and Chartres. St. Anne’s relics have been preserved and venerated in the many cathedrals and monasteries dedicated to her name, for example in Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Greece in Holy Mount and the city of Katerini.
Medieval and baroque craftsmanship is evidenced in the metalwork of the life-size reliquaries containing the bones of her forearm. Düren has been the main place of pilgrimage for Anne since 1506, when Pope Julius II decreed that her relics should be kept there.
The Church of St. Anne in Beit Guvrin National Park was built by the Byzantines and the Crusaders in the 12th century, known in Arabic as Khirbet Sandahanna, the mound of Maresha being called Tell Sandahanna.
St. Anne is patroness of unmarried women, housewives, women in labor or who want to be pregnant, grandmothers, and educators. She is a patroness of horseback riders, cabinet-makers, and miners.
As the mother of Mary, this devotion to St. Anne as the patron of miners arises from the medieval comparison between Mary and Christ and the precious metals silver and gold. Anne’s womb was considered the source from which these precious metals were mined. St. Anne also is said to be a patron saint of sailors and a protector from storms
Anne is also the patron saint of: Brittany (France), Chinandega (Nicaragua), the Mi’kmaq people of Canada, Castelbuono (Sicily), Quebec (Canada), Santa Ana (California), Norwich (Connecticut), Detroit (Michigan), Adjuntas (Puerto Rico), Santa Ana and Jucuarán (El Salvador), Berlin (New Hampshire), Santa Ana Pueblo, Seama, and Taos (New Mexico), Chiclana de la Frontera, Marsaskala, Tudela and Fasnia (Spain), Town of Sta Ana Province of Pampanga, Hagonoy, Santa Ana, Taguig City, St. Anne Shrine, Malicboy, Pagbilao and Quezon and Malinao, Albay (Philippines), Santana (Brazil), St. Anne (Illinois), Sainte Anne Island, Baie Sainte Anne and Praslin Island (Seychelles), Bukit Mertajam and Port Klang (Malaysia), Kľúčové (Slovakia) and South Vietnam. The parish church of Vatican City is Sant’Anna dei Palafrenieri. There is a shrine dedicated to St. Anne in the Woods in Bristol, United Kingdom.
“Christ in the House of His Parents”
“Christ in the House of His Parents,” by John Everett Millais, 1849–50
In John Everett Millais’s 1849–50 work, Christ in the House of His Parents, Anne is shown in her son-in-law Joseph’s carpentry shop caring for a young Jesus who had cut his hand on a nail. She joins her daughter Mary, Joseph, and a young boy who will later become known as John the Baptist in caring for the injured hand of Jesus.
The subject of Joachim and Anne The Meeting at the Golden Gate was a regular component of artistic cycles of the Life of the Virgin. The couple meet at the Golden Gate of Jerusalem and embrace. They are aware of Anne’s pregnancy, of which they have been separately informed by an archangel. This moment stood for the conception of Mary, and the feast was celebrated on the same day as the Immaculate Conception. Anne’s emblem is a door. She is often portrayed wearing red and green, representing love and life.
Anne is never shown as present at the Nativity of Christ, but is frequently shown with the infant Christ in various subjects. She is sometimes believed to be depicted in scenes of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple and the Circumcision of Christ, but in the former case, this likely reflects a misidentification through confusion with Anna the Prophetess. There was a tradition that Anne went (separately) to Egypt and rejoined the Holy Family after their Flight to Egypt. Anne is not seen with the adult Christ, so was regarded as having died during the youth of Jesus.
Anne is also shown as the matriarch of the Holy Kinship, the extended family of Jesus, a popular subject in late medieval Germany; some versions of these pictorial and sculptural depictions include Emerentia who was reputed in the 15th Century to be Anne’s mother. In modern devotions, Anne and her husband are invoked for protection for the unborn.
Gallery of images of St. Anne
Icons of St. Anne