About Our Shrines and Statues
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Two thousand years ago was a time of great expectation among God’s chosen people. Many centuries had rolled by during which the Almighty gradually unfolded the promises of a Messias; and now feeling ran high that His coming was near at hand. The heart of the pious Jew swelled with desire for Him Who would bring peace to souls. During this period of history there lived an aged couple who were descendants from the royal house of David – the family through which the Redeemer was to be given to the world. Her name was Anne; his was Joachim. The shrine at the right of the St. Joseph Altar is dedicated to this gentle Jewish woman who is known to the world today as the Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Although Joachim and Anne had lived as husband and wife for many years, one sorrow overshadowed the happiness of their union. Anne was childless. Among the Jews it was considered a punishment from God if a woman could not bear a child. As the years past Saint Anne kept praying, promising to dedicate her child to God’s service, if only she were so blessed. God finally heard her prayers; and in her old age she conceived and brought forth the most beautiful creature ever fashioned by the Creator.
The conception of Mary in the womb of St. Anne is known as the Immaculate Conception. Our Blessed Lady was conceived in the natural way, but at the first moment of conception her soul was adorned with the richness of Divine life. No Original Sin stained her pure soul; she was ever God’s beloved child.
With the birth of Mary the aged Anne began a new life. She watched Mary’s every movement with reverent tenderness, and felt herself sactified by the presence of her immaculate daughter. With each moment her love for her child grew. But since she had promised her for the service of the Temple, she could not keep her for herself. When Mary was still a young girl, Anne and Joachim led her up the temple steps, saw her pass by herself into the inner sanctuary, and then saw her no more. Thus was Anne left childless in her old age, and deprived of her purest earthly joy just when she needed it most. She humbly adored the Divine Will and began to watch and pray until God called her to her reward where she awaited Life with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of her daughter’s Divine Son.
St. Anne is glorious among the saints, not only because she is the Mother of Mary, but also because she gave Mary up to God. No matter how it hurt, she permitted her child to follow God’s calling. Pray to Saint Anne that you may reverence a divine vocation as the highest privilege God can grant a boy or girl, and beg her for the courage to sacrifice every natural tie, however holy, at the call of God.