Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

Catholic Activity: Patron Saint: Ann


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For those named Ann, Anne, Anna, Annamarie, Nancy, Lillian, Nanette, Anita, Aine, Joann, and Marianne, here are some ideas on how to celebrate your nameday, July 26, the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, grandparents of Jesus, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Includes prayers, symbols, devotion history and recipe and celebration ideas.


Anne ranks fourteenth among the most popular names for girls; its diminutive form, Nancy, ranks twelfth. The name goes back to biblical times. In Hebrew it is Hannah, which means "grace." In the first book of Samuel we read of pious and patient Anna, who vowed that if God would end her long sterility, she would consecrate her child to Him. The birth of her son Samuel was the answer to her prayers and tears. She brought the child to the high priest to be consecrated to God. In her joy she chanted the sublime Canticle of Anna (1 Sam. 2). The song of every barren woman made fruitful, it begins: "My heart has rejoiced in the Lord." Further on we read how she raised Samuel: "The child advanced and grew on, and pleased both the Lord and men." Samuel was the last judge of Israel. The apocryphal stories of St. Anne's conception of the Virgin Mary bear a startling resemblance to the opening chapters of First Samuel.

In Tobias 1:9 we come across another Anna: "But when he (Tobias) was a man, he took to wife Anna of his own tribe, and had a son by her, whom he called after his own name." She was taken into captivity with him.

At the presentation of the Child Jesus in the temple we find Anna the prophetess, whose feast occurs on September 1: "There was also Anna, a prophetess, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher....And coming up at that very hour, she began to give praise to the Lord, and spoke of him to all who were awaiting the redemption of Israel" (Luke 2:36-38). The Greek Church keeps her feast on February 3.

Blessed Anne Marie Taigi lived the normal life of a married woman of the Italian working class and was endowed with the gift of prophecy. Blessed Anne Line, an English convert, was sentenced to death for harboring priests during the Reformation.

Most girls by this name claim Anna, the wife of Joachim and mother of Our Lady, as their patron. Her cult goes back to the sixth century in the East, and to the eighth century in the West. She is often shown in art teaching Our Lady to read the Scriptures. Through the ages she has been depicted wearing a green mantle and a red dress, colors symbolic of immortality and divine love.

Rev. Edgar Schmiedler in Your Home: A Church in Miniature mentions the custom in Louisiana of children of French extraction named Anne wearing red and green ribbons in her honor. These are colors to bear in mind for party decorations on her feast. There is no need to look "Christmasy" by using equal amounts; rather, use cool green for the main color scheme with accents of red.

Devotion to St. Anne was brought to Louisiana by French priests from Brittany and fostered by Canadian priests sent to labor in the South among the French-speaking people. St. Anne d'Auray and St. Anne de Beaupre, famed shrines in Brittany and Canada respectively, inspired the people of Louisiana to dedicate parishes and societies to her, particularly in New Orleans, where her feast is kept with solemnity and where there is an Archconfraternity of St. Anne and an official publication, "St. Anne's Herald." Other immigrants brought devotion to St. Anne from the Old World shrines in Duren in the Rhineland and Apt in Provence. Here in New York are a shrine church of St. Anne on East 12th Street and a shrine in St. Jean Baptiste's on Lexington Avenue at 76th Street, which used to be known as "St. Anne des Canadiens." In Scranton, 150,000 pilgrims visit St. Anne's Passionist Monastery on her feast. There is remembrance of St. Anne on tiny Isle Lamotte in Vermont, where Mass was first offered in New England in 1666. St. Anne has been honored in song and poetry through the ages. Geoffrey Chaucer in the fourteenth century wrote:

Oh thou that art so fair and full of grace, Be thou my advocate in that high place, There, as withouten end is sung Hozanne, Thou Christes mother, daughter dear of Anne!
Thomas Moore, "poet of the people of Ireland," composed in Gaelic the "Canadian Boat Song" sung by Canadian boatmen as they left the shrine and reached the river rapids:
We'll sing to Saint Anne our parting hymn, Row, brothers, row, the stream runs fast, The rapids are near and the daylight's past.
On St. Anne's feast the family prays:

Father: We all rejoice in the Lord, As we keep holiday in honor of blessed Anne, Of her whose feast fills angels with joy, And sets them praising the Son of God.

All: Amen.

Father: Spotless Anna, Juda's glory, Through the Church from East to West Every tongue proclaims thy praises, Holy Mary's mother blessed.

All: From thy stem in beauty budded Ancient Jesse's mystic rod; Birth from thee received the Mother Of the almighty Son of God

Father: Let us pray. O God, You were pleased to bestow Your grace upon Anne so that she might fitly become the mother of her who was to bear Your only-begotten Son; grant that we who keep her feast will be helped by her protection. Through Christ, our Lord. All: Amen. Christ conquers, Christ reigns!

Dessert and decorations. Several symbols including the book cake decorated with a flowering rod suggest themselves for St. Anne's nameday cake. A tiny statue of Our Lady or St. Anne teaching the child Mary to read may top the cake. Green place-mats and paper plates accented with red roses will bring out the colors proper to St. Anne. A light green frosting and pink icing roses are also suggested.

Many beautiful reproductions of paintings of St. Anne are available. You can get a reproduction of De La Tour's St. Anne with the Virgin". Sepia prints of The Madonna and Child with Saint Anne by Bernandino Luini, Milan, are available. Other paintings of St. Anne include The Nativity of Mary in the Church of Saint Severin, Paris; Murillo's Saint Anne Teaching the Virgin, Prado Gallery, Madrid; and The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne by Leonardo and pupils, the Louvre, Paris.

For a nameday gift a signed Serraz makes a perfect statue for a child's altar, or an inexpensive statue from Italy with the traditional green mantle or an imported handcarved wooden statue painted in delicate colors, a gift to save up for during the year. The book St. Anne by Anne Parkinson Keyes makes a nice gift for Ann, Annamarie, Nancy, Lillian, Nanette, Anita, Aine, Joann, and Marianne; Anne by M. K. Richardson is a book to read to little girls; the text is suitable for an eight-year-old to read by herself.

Activity Source: My Nameday — Come for Dessert by Helen McLoughlin, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1962