26 July 2012

26 July - St. Anne and St. Joachim

Weather – If it rains on St. Ann's Day, it will rain for a month and a week [however, some people call the rain on this day "Saint Ann's Dower" and consider it a good thing].

If on St. Anne’s day, the ants are building up their sand-hills, it is a sign of coming severe winter.

Gardening – On St. Anne’s day, the July grapes are ripe [and even if they aren’t quite, the July grape leaves are big and afford abundant shade when climbing over an arbor.  To sit in the arbor with a glass of a previous year’s vintage on a summer’s evening…]


 “The departure out of this life of St. Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.”

In the traditional calendar, (except for the Use of Paris, which celebrated St. Anne on the 28th) today is the feast of Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus. Traditionally, her husband Joachim has his own feast day on the 16th of August, and was mentioned also on the 20th of March, the day of his birth, but celebrating them both today makes sense, for theirs is a fine example of a godly marriage, and, let’s face it, in the calendar of saints, there aren’t many happily married ones to use as examples.  We need all we can get.

Here is the account of Joachim and Anne from the Golden Legend:

“Joachim, which was of Galilee of the city of Nazareth, espoused Anne of Bethlehem, and they were both just and without reproach or reprehension in the commandments of our Lord… and thus lived twenty years in marriage without having any lineage.  And then they avowed to our Lord that if he sent to them any lineage they should give it to Him, for to serve Him.”

During one of the great feasts in Jerusalem, Joachim was prevented by the high priest to bring his offering, saying that his offerings were not acceptable to God, who had judged him unworthy to have children, and that “a man cursed in the faith should not offer to our Lord, nor he that was barren should be among them that had fruit…” Ashamed and afraid of the recriminations of his family and neighbors, he went off to the hills and abode there for forty days.  It was there that an angel found him and declared that his lack of children was no reproach to him, but God’s will, and reminded him that several of the great men of the Hebrews – Isaac and Joseph, Samson and Samuel – were born of mothers who had been barren for years. “And when He closes the womb, He works so that He opens it after, more marvelously… And therefore Anne your wife shall have a daughter, and you shall call her Mary, and she, as you have vowed, shall be from her infancy sacred unto our Lord… And I give to you the sign, that when you come to the golden gate at Jerusalem, you shall meet there Anne your wife, which is much moved of your long tarrying, and shall have joy of your coming.”

The angel gave like assurance to Anne, and gave her the same sign, that of finding her husband at the same city gate.

The Meeting at the Golden Gate, with Joachim and Anne joyfully embracing, was a favorite subject for medieval and renaissance artists, perhaps because it was one of the few times when physical love could be depicted in iconography. 

“And Anne conceived and brought forth a daughter, and named her Mary.”

The rest of the story is concerned with the upbringing and dedication of Mary at the age of three years, when, according to the story, she went to live in the Temple.

Not content with that, writers dabbled in genealogy and tried to tie in as many names from the Biblical account as possible. An ancient account, supposedly written by Hippolytus the Martyr, said that Anne was the third daughter of the priest Matthew and Mary, his wife; that the eldest daughter, also named Mary , married a man in Bethlehem and became the mother of Mary Salome; that the second daughter, named Sobe, married a man in Bethlehem and had a daughter named Elizabeth, who became the mother of John the Baptist.

The Golden Legend tells it differently:
“And Anne had three husbands, Joachim, Cleophas, and Salome; and of the first she had a daughter named Mary, the Mother of God… And when Joachim was dead, she took Cleophas, the brother of Joseph, and had by him another daughter named Mary also, and she was married to Alpheus [who] had by her four sons, that was James the Less, Joseph the Just, otherwise named Barsabee, Simon, and Jude.  Then the second husband being dead, Anne married the third named Salome, and had by him another daughter which yet also was called Mary, and she was married to Zebedee.  And this Mary had of Zebedee two sons, that is to wit, James the Greater, and John the Evangelist.”

Yes, they were an imaginative lot.

Ant: A heavenly blessing entered into Anne, through whom the Virgin Mary was born for us.
V: Pray for us, blessed Anne.
R: That we be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Prayer: O God, who vouchsafed to grant to blessed Anne such grace that she deserved to bear Thy most blessed mother in her most glorious womb, grant to us through the intercession of Thy mother and sister the abundance of Thy graciousness, so that we may embrace their commemoration with holy love, and by their prayers be able to reach heaven, our native land. Through the same, our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, O God, world without end. Amen.
From the Suffrages to the Saints, Hypertext Book of Hours.


For this love charm, you must start on the 23rd of July,  fasting for three days on bread, water, and sprigs of parsley. Nothing else.  On the eve of St. Anne’s feast day (the 25th) go to bed as soon as convenient, and be silent from the time you undress.   Get into bed, lie on your left side, with your head as low as possible, [?] and repeat the following verse three times:
"Saint Anne in silver cloud descend
Prove yourself a maiden’s friend
Be it good or be it harm,
Let me have knowledge from the charm.
Be it husband one, two, three,
Let me in rotation see,
And if fate decrees me four,
(No good maid would wish for more)
Let me view them in my dream
Fair and clearly to be seen;
But if the hateful stars decree
Perpetual virginity,
Let me sleep on and dreaming not,
I shall know my single lot.” 


Hours of Catherine of Cleves (c1440). Joachim and Anne 

Engraving from a print in the Salisbury Missal (1534) found in The Everyday Book and Table Book (William Hone, 1838)

Detail from Giotto, Legend of St. Joachim, Meeting at the Golden Gate (1305)