Father of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary
(† ca. 7 B.C.)
Joachim, of the tribe of Juda and the family of David, was a shepherd of Nazareth. Stolanus, father of Saint Anne, gave him his pious daughter in marriage. The two spouses lived in the fear of the Lord and the practice of good works. They divided all their wealth into three parts: the first was regularly given to the temple, for its support and that of the ministers of religion; they gave the second part to the poor, while the last and least excellent served for the needs of the family. Nonetheless, happiness had not come to this home — the spouse of Joachim was sterile.
For twenty years already they had prayed to God to deliver them from this opprobrium. The holy couple invariably went, according to custom at the Feast of Tabernacles, to the Holy City. There the high priest was immolating the victims when Joachim presented himself in his turn, bearing a lamb; Anne followed him. The high priest had only words of contempt and reproach for them, and in the presence of the people he rejected their offering.
Joachim did not have the heart to return to Nazareth; his grief prompted him to seek solitude and prayer. Anne returned alone to their residence, and he retired to a region near Jerusalem, where shepherds were pasturing their sheep. The silent calm of pastoral life, brought some relief to the wound of his heart. Who has not known how solitude brings one closer to God?
One day when he was alone in the fields, the Angel Gabriel came and stood before him. Joachim prostrated himself, trembling with fear. Do not fear, said the heavenly messenger. I am the Angel of the Lord, and it is God Himself who sends me. He has heard your prayers; your alms have come before His presence. Anne, your spouse, will bear a daughter whose happiness will be above that of other women; She will be blessed, and named the Mother of eternal blessing. You will name the Child Mary and consecrate Her to God when the time comes. The Holy Spirit, from the time She is in the womb of Her mother, will dwell in Her soul, and He will accomplish in Her great things. With those words, the Angel disappeared.
The Archangel’s announcement and the Lord’s promise were fulfilled. Joachim in his turn was faithful to the commands of the Lord. His daughter received the name of Mary, and when She was three years old, he and Saint Anne entrusted Her to the pious women who in the temple of Jerusalem brought up young girls consecrated to the Lord. Mary had lived there under the gaze of God for eight years, when Joachim died, laden with merits and virtues. Anne, his spouse, had him buried in the Valley of Josaphat, not far from the Garden of Gethsemane, and one year later rejoined him there.
La vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé Pradier; Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 9
Mother of Our Blessed Lady
ST. ANNE was the spouse of St. Joachim, and was chosen by God to be the mother of Mary, His own blessed Mother on earth. They were both of the royal house of David, and their lives were wholly occupied in prayer and good works. One thing only was wanting to their union.—they were childless, and this was held as a bitter misfortune among the Jews. At length, when Anne was an aged woman, Mary was born, the fruit rather of grace than of nature, and the child more of God than of man. With the birth of Mary the aged Anne began a new life: she watched her every movement with reverent tenderness, and felt herself hourly sanctified by the presence of her immaculate child. But she had vowed her daughter to God, to God Mary had consecrated herself again, and to Him Anne gave her back. Mary was three years old when Anne and Joachim led her up the Temple steps, saw her pass by herself into the inner sanctuary, and then saw her no more. Thus was Anne left childless in her lone old age, and deprived of her purest earthly joy just when she needed it most. She humbly adored the Divine Will, and began again to watch and pray, till God called her to unending rest with the Father and the Spouse of Mary in the home of Mary’s Child.
Reflection. —St. Anne is glorious among the Saints, not only as the mother of Mary, but because she gave Mary to God. Learn from her to reverence a divine vocation as the highest privilege, and to sacrifice every natural tie, however holy, at the call of God.
Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition http://www.globalgrey.co.uk