Happy feast day!
Yes! Today is the feast day of not just one, but two saints! Saint Anne and Saint Joachim, to be precise. Who are these wonderful people? Why, Jesus’s grandparents, of course! In fact, they are Mary’s parents.
The next question is, how do we know about them? After all, they are not written about in the gospel accounts! Though we know that Mary, being human, presumably had parents, there is nothing mentioned about them in the gospel accounts.
The answer? The Protoevangelium of James. This is an apocryphal book, purportedly written by James, the cousin of Jesus Christ, who is also known as the brother of the Lord in the gospel account. Was it really written by James? That… is unlikely, seeing as it first seems to have originated in the second century. It’s full of wild accounts of our Lord that don’t seem to line up neatly with the gospels at all and the early Church Fathers were deeply skeptical of its authenticity.
There’s a good reason why it’s not considered to be part of biblical canon!
And yet! The book also gives us names and other details of the Virgin Mary that help us understand her a bit more. So, while it’s written in an utterly fantastic way, it gives us some details — such as the name of Mary’s parents — that we assume are probably true. And so, the Church gives the nod to some of the details of this book, while admitting that some of the stories are probably not true.
And so, with no further ado, I present to you… a picture of Saint Anne and Saint Joachim cuddling with their grandson, Jesus Christ!
Notice the name of the artist! Elisabetta Sirani. In a time where women didn’t have much to do, besides marry, she was an accomplished artist, trained by her father, who trained under Guido Reni. In fact, the art critics of the day admitted that she was less like her father and more like Guido Reni.
Anyway! This is a sweet picture of two grandparents spoiling their grandchild. Saint Anne, who is able to distract Jesus from nursing, takes him into her arms while Saint Joachim tempts Jesus with some delicious cherries. (If you can’t see the cherries, click on the picture! It’ll take you to a bigger image you can zoom in on.) Mary looks on with love while her husband, Joseph, looks and smiles in on the scene.
Proof that grandparents of all times spoiled their grandchildren!
Saints Anne and Joachim, pray for us!