Uniting the blood of kings with that of pontiffs, the glory of Anne's illustrious origin is far surpassed by that of her offspring, without compare among the daughters of Eve.The noblest of all, who have ever conceived by virtue of the command to " increase and multiply," beholds the law of human generation pause before her as having arrived at its summit, at the threshold of God; for, from her fruit God himself is to come forth, the fatherless Son of the Blessed Virgin, and the grandson of Anne and Joachim.
Before being favored with the greatest blessing ever bestowed on an earthly union, the two holy grand-parents of the Word made Flesh had to pass through the purification of suffering.
Traditions which, though mingled with details of less authenticity, have come down to us from the very beginning of Christianity, tell us of these noble spouses subjected to the trial of prolonged sterility, and on that account despised by their people; of Joachim cast out of the temple and going to hide his sorrow in the desert; of Anne left alone to mourn her widowhood and humiliation.
For exquisite sentiment this narrative might be compared with the most beautiful histories in Holy Scripture.
"It was one of the great festival days of the Lord. In spite of extreme sorrow, Anne laid aside her mourning garments, and adorned her head and clothed herself with her nuptial robes. And about the ninth hour she went down to the garden to walk; seeing a laurel she sat down in its shade, and poured forth her prayer to the Lord God, saying: God of my fathers, bless me and hear my supplication, as thou didst bless Sara and didst give her a son! And raising her eyes to heaven, she saw in the laurel a sparrow's nest, and sighing she said: Alas! of whom was I born to be thus a curse in Israel? To whom shall I liken me? I cannot liken me to the birds of the air; for the birds are blessed by thee, O Lord. To whom shall I liken me? I cannot liken me to the beasts of the earth: for they, too, are fruitful before thee. To whom shall I liken me? I cannot liken me to the waters; for they are not barren in thy sight, and the rivers and the oceans full of fish praise thee in their heavings and in their peaceful flowing. To whom shall I liken me? I cannot liken me even to the earth, for the earth, too, bears fruit in season, and praises thee, O Lord. And behold an Angel of the Lord stood by, and said to her: Anne, God has heard thy prayer; "thou shalt conceive and bear a child, and thy fruit shall be honoured throughout the whole inhabited earth. And in due time Anne brought forth a daughter, and said: My soul is magnified this hour. And she called the child Mary; and giving her the breast, she intoned this canticle to the Lord: I will sing the praise of the Lord my God: for He has visited me and has taken away my shame, and has given me a fruit of justice. Who shall declare to the sons of Ruben that Anne is become fruitful? Hear, hear, O ye twelve tribes: behold Anne is giving suck (Protevangelium Jacobi)!"
The feast of St. Joachim, which the Church celebrates on the Sunday within the octave of his blessed Daughter's Assumption, will give us an occasion of completing the account of these trials and joys in which he shared. Warned from heaven to leave the desert, he met his spouse at the golden gate which leads to the Temple on the east side. Not far from here, near the Probatica piscina, where the little white lambs were washed before being offered in sacrifice, now stands the restored basilica of St. Anne, originally called St. Mary of the Nativity. Here, as in a peaceful paradise, the rod of Jesse produced that blessed branch which the Prophet hailed as about to bear the flower that had blossomed from eternity in the bosom of the Father. It is true that Sephoris, Anne's native city, and Nazareth, where Mary lived, dispute with the holy City the honour which ancient and constant tradition assigns to Jerusalem. But our homage will not be misdirected if we offer it today to Blessed Anne, in whom were wrought the prodigies, the very thought of which brings new joy to heaven, rage to satan, and triumph to the world.
Saint Anne was, as it were, the starting-point of Redemption, the horizon scanned by the prophets, the first span of the heavens to be empurpled with the rising fires of aurora; the blessed soil whose produce was so pure as to make the Angels believe that Eden had been restored to us. But in the midst of the aureola of incomparable peace that surrounds her, let us hail her as the land of victory surpassing the most famous fields of battle; as the sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception, where our humiliated race took up the combat begun before the throne of God by the Angelic hosts; where the serpent's head was crushed, and Michael, now surpassed in glory, gladly handed over to his sweet Queen, at the first moment of her existence, the command of the Lord's armies.
~ Saint Anne and Saint Joachim - pray and intercede for us ~
( source Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals )