Born: 1st century BC
Died: 1st century BC or AD
FEast: July 26th
Grandparents, women in labor, childlessness and infertility
As mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus, we can only imagine how supportive, loving, encouraging, and trusting you must have been. You trusted God would grant you a seemingly impossible child, and you trusted that child even when you did not understand her circumstance. you know our struggles in raising a family the best we can. Bless us as we try.
Luckily, people are beginning to share their stories of infertility. Too taboo to discuss until not very long ago (and still not considered "safe" in some places, we are finally realizing how common it is - and how traumatic. Hearing about St. Anne - the very mother of the mother of God - struggling with this same issue is so humanizing of her. That trauma is something I wanted very visible on her face, as well as worry - as on the face of any mother - especially one with a child and grandchild about to change the world.
There is not much known about St. Anne or her husband, St. Joachim, other than that they are traditionally regarded as the grandparents of Jesus and Mary's parents.
The only stories we have of them are from a non-canon document called "The Gospel of James". In that story, it says that the two were childless, and Joachim went to the temple to offer a holiday sacrifice. While there, he was ridiculed for not having any children and was not allowed to enter and present the offering. Joachim was told that he was unworthy.
Devastated, he fled to the mountains to pray and beg God for children. Anne learned what had happened to her husband and where he had gone, and made a promise to God that if she were allowed to have a child, she would dedicate them to God.
At the same moment, both Anne and Joachim had a vision of an angel who told them Anne would bear a "wonderous" child.
Just like the story of Samuel and his mother Hannah in the Old Testament, God heard the women's prayers and granted them children who would change history.
Most legends state that Anne never remarried, though Joachim may have died shortly after the birth of Mary. Some say that Anne remarried twice, and through those marriages also became the grandmother of the Apostles John, James, Simon, Jude, and James the Less.
Regardless, we can at least know that Anne must have been a loving, caring, respectful, and influential mother to Mary, as Mary must have looked up to her when raising her own child.