Caitlin Kennell Kim, seminary grad, baby wrangler, ordinary radical, writes about the life of a convert in the Catholic Church and explores how faith and everyday life intersect.
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Celebrating Our Heavenly Grandparents: The Feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim
Are you an Anne, Nancy, Anna, Hannah, Anita, Roseanne, or Lilian? Are you a Joachim, Joaquin, Akim, or Yachim? If so, happy Name Day! July 26 is the Feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is the first year the Kim family is throwing a proper feast for our heavenly grandparents, so come along with us as we get to know them!
Getting to know your Nana and Papa
(or Grandma and Grandpa or Grammy and Poppy or Yiayia and Pappou, as the case may be)
- Most of what we know about St. Anne and her husband St. Joachim comes from the Protoevangelium of James. This “gospel” is not part of the Bible, but it does detail some aspects of the early life of the Blessed Virgin Mary that are an important part of the tradition handed down from the apostles. While it does not command the same reverence as Scripture, it is considered a reliable record of the beliefs of the earliest Christian community.
- St. Joachim was a wealthy shepherd whose heart ached to be a father. He retreated to the desert to pray for a child like his father in faith Abraham. He fasted and prayed. God blessed him with an even richer inheritance than Abraham — he would be the father of the Mother of the Messiah!
- St. Anne was the wife of St. Joachim. Her heart was also grieved by a desire to have a child. When Joachim retreated to the desert to pray, she didn’t know where he had gone and cried out to God mourning her husband and the child she would never have. An angel appeared to her and consoled her with the news that she would bear a child whose name would be spoken in every corner of the earth. The angel also told her that Joachim was coming to the gates of Jerusalem. She ran to meet him at the gate and they shared a joyful embrace.
- St. Anne and St. Joachim knew that their daughter had a unique call to serve God. At the age of three, they brought Mary to the Temple. She was consecrated to God and grew in wisdom and grace in the Temple until she was betrothed to St. Joseph.
Making the day special
The Feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim is the perfect opportunity to give honor and thanks to our earthly grandparents. Here are a few ideas:
- Call them! If you’re blessed with grandparents who are still living, start your celebration off right on Saturday morning by calling them.
- Write them! Sometimes hearing loss can make talking on the phone a difficult task for the elderly. Taking the time to write your grandparents a letter would mean a lot!
- Invite them! It doesn’t have to be a fancy affair to be special. You can throw an impromptu barbeque, an afternoon tea, or a picnic lunch. If your grandparents aren’t able to travel, offer to bring the party to them! If you can’t spend the day with your grandparents, consider inviting an elderly neighbor or friend to join you.
- Engage them! Ask them about their experience as parents and their experience as people of faith. What has given them hope and strength on their life’s journey? What do they hope for in this stage of their life?
What’s a feast without fun?! Check out these faith-filled activities:
- Yum! Red (for divine love) and green (for eternal life) are the traditional colors of St. Anne. In Louisiana, it’s traditional for girls named after St. Anne to wear red and green ribbons in their hair for her feast day. Summer is full of delicious red and green foods. Watermelon, strawberries, kiwis, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers … the list goes on and on! Try incorporating as many red and green foods into your feast as you can.
- Creative fun! Nobody loves a handmade gift like a grandparent, so making a simple craft for the feast of our heavenly grandparents is a great way to honor them. Check out this coloring page of the family of the Blessed Virgin and this lovely coloring page of St. Anne. (You don’t have to be a little one to enjoy breaking out the ol’ Crayolas … coloring can be a wonderfully meditative experience!) We made these simple felt St. Anne dolls this week. St. Joachim can easily be made by turning the veil into a cloak. This is a great activity to do with kiddos and would also be a meaningful craft to do with an elderly friend or relative.
- Say thanks! St. Anne is the patron saint of homemakers. Is there someone in your life who makes your house a home? Someone who prepares meals and/or keeps your home tidy and welcoming? If so, take time to thank her (or him!) today. A peaceful and welcoming home is the beginning of peace in our lives … and the world. Honor St. Anne (and the keeper of your home) by taking over the tasks of cooking and cleaning for the day.
- Offer prayers! Did you know that St. Anne and St. Joachim are venerated in Islam? Hannah (Anne) and Imran (Joachim) are honored as parents of Maryam (Mary), mother of Isa (Jesus). Let’s ask our heavenly grandparents to pray for peace, forgiveness, and mutual respect between Muslims and Christians, especially in Iraq.
How do you plan to celebrate the Feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!