Catholic Activity: St. Anne's Day
July 26 is the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary, and the grandparents of Jesus. This was formerly only the feast of St. Anne. In Europe there was a great devotion to this saint. Here is a short summary of some traditions, and an idea to honor grandparents on this day.
St. Anne was for long the patroness of joiners and cabinet makers, and for the emblem of their guild they took a figure of St. Anne instructing her daughter. A curious choice, it seems at first glance. But they entwined round the two figures this inscription: "sic fingit tabernaculum Deo," thus she frames a tabernacle for God. These wood workers realized the parallel between themselves, the tabernacles they made, the Blessed Sacrament that was housed in them and St. Anne, our Lady and the Child she bore.
Not only joiners took Anne as their patron; so did all those engaged in spinning, weaving, embroidery, sewing and any sort of household arts and skills. She seems indeed to have been the patron of the housewife.
It was in the East that the mother of our Lady was first honored. The Greek church held her in tremendous reverence and sang her praises in words that echo the Akathist hymn, that great song of praise written in her daughter's honor.
Hail, spiritual bird, announcing the spring time of grace!
Hail, sheep, mother of the ewe lamb, who by a word conceived the Word, the Lamb that taketh away the sins of the world!
Hail, blessed earth, whence sprang the branch that bore the divine Fruit!
O Anne, most blessed in God, grandmother of Christ our Lord, who didst give to the world a shining lamp, the mother of God; together with her intercede that great may be the mercy granted to our souls.
Let us cry to holy Anne with cymbals and psaltery. She brought forth the mountain of God and was borne up to the spiritual mountains, the tabernacles of Paradise.
In England St. Anne's feast was authorized by Pope Urban IV in 1381. Thus she was honored here more than two hundred years before her day was celebrated as a feast of the universal Church. There is then nothing strange in suggesting that it be given more consideration now. St. Anne's day is a homely feast. After all, she is the grandmother of Christ, odd though this may sound in one's ears. If mid-Lent Sunday is the feast of mothers, is there any reason why this should not be the day when the grandparents are made the center of everything? Gifts can be sent them, letters written, visits paid. St. Anne has received tremendous honor at the shrines that have been set up to her. The one set up in Brittany, St. Anne d'Auray, discovered to Yves Nicolazic by herself in 1624, is one of the greatest places of Christian pilgrimage. Here there is nothing to compete with that. There are a number of churches dedicated to her, and that is all. But to celebrate her feast day in such a practical way as that of centering it round the grandparents of a family is surely something that would appeal to one whom popular fancy has always linked up with home life.
Activity Source: Candle is Lighted, A by P. Stewart Craig, The Grail, Field End House, Eastcote, Middlesex, 1945