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Catholic Activity: St. Ann and Joachim

July 26 was formerly only the feast of St. Anne. Now the feast includes both parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joachim and St. Anne. All information about the parents of Mary is passed on by tradition, for they are not mentioned in the Gospels. St. Anne is well-loved in France, Canada and Hungary. In Brittany, fish and crustaceans are served on this day. Feast Day Cookbook provides a recipe for Langouste à la Crème (Lobster with Cream).

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This is the day set aside by the Western Church to celebrate the feast of one who is not mentioned in the Gospels but who is set down in tradition as well as in the hearts of thousands as Saint Anne, the mother of Mary.

She is especially beloved in France where, according to one ancient account, la bonne Sainte Anne was born. She is said to have gone from the land of Brittany to the land where she gave birth to Our Lady; and later, for love of her own country, she returned to Brittany to live, when her daughter was grown up and married to Joseph. All over France there are many churches in her honor and many harbor relics of Saint Anne.

The patroness of Brittany, a little saying sums up the feelings of every Breton about her: C'est notre mère è tous. Religious processions and other celebrations take place on her feast and, since the gastronomic specialties of Brittany are all sorts of fish and crustaceans, they are always served on her day.

France has carried its devotion to Saint Anne to the New World and in the little town of Beaupré in Canada she is held in especial reverence. Devotion to her goes back to the year 1650 when in the first house of the town was built a tiny altar in her honor. Eight years later a small chapel was erected to her, and it is told that she showed her appreciation by healing a crippled old man who had carried bricks for her building.

Today, on either side of the doors of the great Basilica of Saint Anne de Beaupré, piles of bandages and crutches are left by hundreds of her grateful clients. Pilgrims by thousands stream through the little town sometimes called "the Lourdes of Canada."

In Hungary Saint Anne's day is a great feast and is known as Mother's Day. It was formerly a holiday when the rich indulged in fine Anna balls, the peasants in folk dances and merrymaking of all kinds, and when the traditional Anna Fairs were held in towns and villages.

Activity Source: Feast Day Cookbook by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger, David McKay Company, Inc., New York, 1951

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