The Feast Day of St. Joachim and St. Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
From a Homily by St. John Paul II - Celebration of the Eucharist in the Basilica of St. Mary Major
Friday, 8 December 1978
The figure of St Anne reminds us, in fact, of the paternal home of Mary, the Mother of Christ. Mary was born there, bearing in her that extraordinary mystery of the immaculate conception. There she was surrounded by the love and solicitude of her parents: Joachim and Anne. There she "learned" from her mother, from St Anne, how to be a mother. And although, from the human point of view, she had renounced motherhood, the Heavenly Father, accepting her total donation, gratified her with the most perfect and holy motherhood. Christ, from the Cross, transferred in a certain sense his mother's maternity to his favorite disciple, and likewise he extended it to the whole Church, to all men. When, therefore, as "children of (divine) promise" (cf. Gal Ga 4,28), we find ourselves in the range of this motherhood, and when we feel its holy depth and fullness, let us think then that it was St Anne herself who was the first to teach Mary, her daughter, how to be a Mother.
"Anne" in Hebrew means "God (subject understood) has given grace". Reflecting on this meaning of St Anne's name, St John of Damascus exclaimed: "Since it was to happen that the Virgin Mother of God should be born from Anne, nature did not dare to precede the seed of grace; but it remained without its fruit in order that grace might produce its own. In fact, there was to be born that first-born who would give birth to the first-born of every creature" (Serm.VI, De nativ. B.V.M., 2; ).
As we come here today, all of us, parishioners of St Anne's in the Vatican, let us turn our hearts to her and, through her let us repeat to Mary, Daughter and Mother:
"Monstra Te esse Matrem,
Sumat per Te preces,
Qui pro nobis natus,
Tulit esse Tuus".
(Show yourself our Mother,
He will hear your pleading
Whom your womb has sheltered
And whose hands bring healing)
Today’s Mass Entrance Antiphon and Collect are so beautiful:
Let us praise Joachim and Anne, to whom, in their generation, the Lord gave him who was a blessing for all the nations.
O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
St. Joachim and Anne, pray for us!