For many women, having children is one of the greatest joys they can ever experience. A child in their arms means sunshine and happiness. Unfortunately, there are also many who long to be mothers, but struggle with infertility. St. Anne, the mother of Mary, urges these women to not lose hope. For 50 years, she suffered the same childless fate until God chose her as the mother of our beloved Virgin Mary.
Both St. Anne and her husband St. Joachim are not mentioned in the Bible. The only source that historians have about them is the apocryphal literature, the Protoevangelium of St. James in the second century. According to St. James, Anne was an elderly woman who lived in Jerusalem. She was married to Joachim and both were living a very prayerful and happy life in accordance with God’s will, but were not blessed with a single child in the 50 years they were together. During those days, it was a bitter misfortune among the Jews to be childless. Anne was perplexed and troubled by her inability to conceive—what were they doing wrong? Despite her condition, Anne’s faith never faltered and she continued to pray.
Chosen Mother of Mary
One day, Anne was praying in the garden when she recalled God’s blessing of childbirth to Sarah and Hannah— barren women in the Old Testament who were granted children despite their old age. She lifted her eyes and prayed “…You know the pain of childlessness; put an end to the sorrow of my heart and open my womb and make me who am barren fruit-bearing, so that we may bring the one born of me as a gift to You…” Suddenly, an angel appeared to her and said, “Anne, the Lord heard your prayer and you shall conceive and bring forth, and your seed shall be spoken of in all the world.” Anne replied, “As the Lord my God lives, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it shall minister to Him in holy things all the days of its life.”
Anne rushed to the city gates to wait for Joachim, eager to share the news with him. Once she saw him from a distance, Anne ran to meet him and kissed him. “Now, I know the Lord God has blessed me exceedingly. I, the childless, shall conceive,” she happily told her husband. Nine months later, a baby girl was born to them. They named their little one Mary.
Saint Anne’s Intercession
For the full feature, grab a copy of My Pope Philippines September 2019 issue.
Text by Yen Cantiga.