26th July - Feast of Saints Anne and Joachim

Written by Anne Newman - Saturday 27th July 2019

St. Anne, was the mother of Mary and the grandmother of Jesus Christ.

Anne, which means grace, was born in Bethlehem from the House of David, the line which was prophesied to give birth to Christ. She married Joachim from Nazareth in Galilee.

Joachim was a shepherd given the task of supplying the temple of Jerusalem with sheep for sacrifices.

After twenty years of marriage Anne and Joachim had no children.

Once, when Joachim overheard ridicule because of their childless state, he is said to have gone into the desert to plead with God to give them a child. After a time of fasting an angel appeared to assure Joachim he and Anne would be given a child they were to name Mary and dedicate to God.

While Joachim was away, Saint Anne wondered where her husband had gone and was sad at not having a child. An angel appeared to tell her she would soon give birth to a daughter she was to name Mary. The story continues with Anne and Joachim’s joyous reunion at the golden gate of Jerusalem.

After Mary’s birth Anne and Joachim dedicated her to God at the temple of Jerusalem. When Mary was fourteen they betrothed her to Joseph of Nazareth and so Mary’s story continues with the birth of her son, Jesus, and his life on earth.

Joachim and Anne at the Golden Gate

Church of All Saints, Gresford, Wrexham,
home to the largest quantity of medieval stained glass in Wales.

St. Anne is the Patroness of Brittany.

St. Anne is also patroness of pregnant women bestowing three great favours: a happy birth, a healthy child, and sufficient milk to be able to raise the baby.

She is also the patron of washerwomen, embroiderers and miners.

Legend says the relics of St. Anne were brought from the Holy Land to Constantinople in 710 and were still in the church of St. Sophia in 1333.

Other legends say that the body of St. Anne was brought to Apt in France by St. Lazarus, the friend of Christ, was hidden by St. Auspicius in the 4th Century and found again during the reign of Charlemagne and these relics were brought to the Church in Apt in 1664.

There is no mention of Anne in the New Testament. The story of St. Anne comes chiefly from the Gospel of James - Protoevangelium of James - which only dates back to the second century.

Her two great shrines are at St. Anne d'Auray in Britanny, France, and Ste. Anne de Beaupre near Quebec in Canada.

There are many Holy Wells dedicated to St. Anne in Ireland.

The Feast of St Anne is pattern day at many of them.

St Anne's Holy Well, Tomhaggard, Co. Wexford - Megalithic Ireland website has a good description and pictures

St. Anne's Well at Ahanass in Woodford, Co. Galway. Well has a " pattern" associated with it and for curing illnesses, mainly sore eyes. Cloths are tied to a nearby bush and is also associated with the Blessed Virgin.

St Anne’s well in Glenasmole, Co. Dublin, is a stone lined well in the base of a sacred tree.

St. Anne's Well, Booleynollagh, Co Galway - This link at Galway Community Archaeology has more information

St. Ann's Well in St. Anne Park Raheny, Dublin, was once a popular holy well. The well dried up in the 1950s. Dublin City Council made several attempts to relocate the source but it remains dry to this day. The site is still respected, and was visited in 2000 by a formal joint procession of worshippers from the local Raheny parishes. I’ve known this well most of my life as I played and walked in St. Annes most of my childhood and brought my own children there over the years. It would be lovely to see the well full and working.

Tobar Naomh Anna, Tir na Fhia, Connemara, Galway. The pattern is 26th July. The well is located on the edge Loch Tan. A short drive from Tír an Fhia, it is signposted and there is a small space for parking with a path leading to the well. This is a triangular font in the granite rock. by the side of the lake. Tom and I visited it one summer's day. We spent a wonderful peaceful hour there by the lake.