This day, 26 July, marks the Feast on which we recall, celebrate, and invoke the intercession of the parents of the Blessed Mother, Sts. Anne and Joachim. Traditionally, this day focuses most especially on St. Anne, grandmother of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. I shall revisit St. Joachim on his traditional observance.
The Education of the Virgin by Rubens, ca. 1626AD. St. Anne & St. Joachim are with a young St. Mary.
This site presents a short summary of information on St. Anne, the patron saint of Grandparents; note particularly the interesting notes regarding Canada! Catholic Saints Info: St. Anne
Here is a beautiful text of St. John Damascene (+749AD) from that Patron Saint site:
"Joachim and Anne, how blessed a couple! All creation is indebted to you. For at your hands the Creator was offered a gift excelling all other gifts: a chaste mother, who alone was worthy of him. Joachim and Anne, how blessed and spotless a couple! You will be known by the fruit you have borne, as the Lord says: “By their fruits you will know them.” The conduct of your life pleased God and was worthy of your daughter. For by the chaste and holy life you led together, you have fashioned a jewel of virginity: she who remained a virgin before, during, and after giving birth. She alone for all time would maintain her virginity in mind and soul as well as in body. Joachim and Anne, how chaste a couple! While leading a devout and holy life in your human nature, you gave birth to a daughter nobler than the angels, whose queen she now is."
Also, for more on St. Anne:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Anne
Finally, this link goes the Golden Legend of Blessed Jacobus de Voragine (+1298), Dominican Archbishop of Genoa, and compiler of hagiography, with an account of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, which certain involved St. Anne, along with St. Joachim:
Golden Legend: Nativity of Our Lady
Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré
["Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, Quebec, Canada" by Didier Moïse. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons]
On this feast of St. Anne, the mother of Our Lady, and grandmother of Our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, let us recall on of the great churches in honor of this great saint-- the Basilica of St. Anne-de-Beaupré in the Canadian province of Quebec. This Basilica just celebrated the 350th anniversary of the location being a center of devotion to St. Anne in 2008. Here is a link to the official site of the Basilica:
Basilica of St. Anne de Beaupre
The magnificent statue of St. Anne with her daughter, the Blessed Virgin, at the Basilica.
The Old Catholic Encyclopedia gives an account of the founding of the Basilica:
"Devotion to Saint Anne, in Canada, goes back to the beginning of New France, and was brought thither by the first settlers and early missionaries. The hardy pioneers soon began to till the fertile soil of the Beaupré hillside; in the region which now forms the parish of Sainte Anne de Beaupré the first houses date from the year 1650. Nor was it long before the settlers built themselves a chapel where they might meet for Divine worship. One of their number, the Sieur Etienne Lessard, offered to give the land required at the spot which the church authorities should find suitable. On 13 March, 1658, therefore, the missionary, Father Vignal, came to choose the site and to bless the foundation of the proposed chapel which, by general consent, was to be dedicated to St. Anne. The very day the Saint showed how favourably she viewed the undertaking by healing Louis Guimont, an inhabitant of Beaupré, who suffered terribly from rheumatism of the loins. Full of confidence in St. Anne, he came forward and placed three stones in the foundations of the new building, whereupon he found himself suddenly and completely cured of his ailment.
This first authentic miracle was the precursor of countless other graces and favours of all kinds. For two centuries and a half the great wonder-worker has ceaselessly and lavishly shown her kindness to all the sufferers who from all parts of North America flock every year to Beaupré to implore her help. The old church was begun in 1676, and used for worship until 1876, when it was replaced by the present one, opened in October of that year. This last was built of cut stone, by means of contributions from all the Catholics of Canada. The offerings made by pilgrims have defrayed the cost of fittings and decoration. It is two hundred feet long, and one hundred wide, including the side chapels. Leo XIII raised it to the rank of a minor basilica 5 May, 1887; on 19 May, 1889, it was solemnly consecrated by Cardinal Taschereau, Archbishop of Quebec. It has been served by the Redemptorists since 1878. On either side of the main doorway are huge pyramids of crutches, walking-sticks, bandages, and other appliances left behind by the cripples, lame, and sick, who, having prayed to St. Anne at her shrine, have gone home healed." [cf., Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Anne de Beaupre]
The current Basilica, built in 1926 after the original was destroyed by fire, boasts several significant relics of St. Anne, and remains a popular place of pilgrimage [this blogger went on his honeymoon there].
Here is a link to the local municipality: Ville de Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre