Anna and Gioacchino are the parents of the Virgin Mary. Gioacchino is a shepherd and lives in Jerusalem, an old priest is married to Anna. The two had no children and were an ancient couple. One day while Gioacchino is working in the fields, an angel appears to him to announce the birth of a son, and Anna has the same vision. They call their little girl Maria, which means "loved by God". Gioacchino brings his gifts back to the temple: together with the little girl, ten lambs, twelve calves and a hundred spotless young goats. Later Maria is taken to the temple to be educated according to the law of Mosè. Sant'Anna is invoked as the protector of pregnant women, who turn to her to obtain three great favours from God: a happy birth, a healthy child, and enough milk to raise him. She is the patroness of many professions related to her duties as a mother, including laundry workers and embroiderers. (Avvenire)
Etymology: Anna = from Hebrew "grace, the beneficent"
Roman Martyrology: Memory of Santi Gioacchino e Anna, parents of the immaculate Virgin Mary Mother of God, whose names are preserved by ancient Christian tradition.
Despite the fact that there is little news about Sant'Anna and moreover not from official and canonical texts, her cult is extremely widespread both in the East and in the West.
Almost every city has a church dedicated to her, Caserta considers her its heavenly Patroness, the name of Anna is repeated in the headers of streets, city districts, clinics and other places; some municipalities bear her name.
The Mother of the Virgin, is the holder of several patronates almost all linked to Mary; since she carried in her womb the hope of the world, her cloak is green, that's why in Brittany where they are devoted to her, she is invoked for the harvesting of hay; since she kept Mary as a jewel in a casket, she is the patron saint of goldsmiths and coopers; she protects miners, carpenters, cabinetmakers and turners.
Because she taught the Virgin to clean the house, to sew, to weave, she is the patron saint of broom-makers, weavers, tailors, manufacturers and traders of household cloths and linen.
She is, above all, the patron saint of mothers of families, widows and women in childbirth; she is invoked in difficult births and against marital sterility.
Anna's name derives from the Hebrew Hannah (grace) and is not mentioned in the canonical Gospels; instead, the apocryphal Gospels of the Nativity and Childhood speak of her, the oldest of which is the so-called "Protovangel of San Giacom", written no later than the middle of the second century.
Although these writings have not been formally accepted by the Church and also contain heresies, they have ultimately influenced devotion and liturgy, because some of the news reported are considered authentic and in keeping with tradition, such as the Presentation of Mary at the temple and the Assumption into heaven, such as the name of the centurion Longinus who struck Jesus with the spear, the history of Veronica, etc..
The "Protovangel of San Giacomo" says that Gioacchino, Anna's bridegroom, was a pious and very rich man and lived near Jerusalem, near the fountain Piscina Probatica; one day while he was bringing his abundant offerings to the Temple as he did every year, the high priest Ruben stopped him saying: "You do not have the right to do this first, because you have not begotten offspring".
Gioacchino and Anna were married couples who really loved each other, but they had no children, and by that time they would have no children of their own; according to the Jewish mentality of the time, the high priest saw the divine curse on them, so they were sterile.
The rich old shepherd, for the love of his bride, did not want to find another woman to have a child; Therefore, grieved by the words of the high priest, he went into the archives of the twelve tribes of Israel to see if what Ruben said was true, and when he saw that all the pious and observant men had children, upset he did not have the courage to return home and retired to his land in the mountains, and for forty days and forty nights he begged God's help in tears, prayers and fasting.
Anna also suffered from this sterility, and she also suffered from this 'flight' of her husband; so she prayed intensely asking God to grant their imploring to have a child.
During the prayer an angel appeared to her and announced to her: "Anna, Anna, the Lord has heard your prayer and you will conceive and give birth and there will be talk of your offspring all over the world".
So it happened and after a few months Anna gave birth. The "Protovangel of San Giacomo" concludes: "After the necessary days she purified herself and gave her baby a stern, calling her Mary, that is, 'the Lord's beloved'".
Other apocryphal gospels say that Ann would have conceived the Virgin Mary in a miraculous way during her husband's absence, but it is clear that this is a tracing of another biblical episode, whose protagonist bears the same name as Anna, who was also sterile and who was to be prodigiously the mother of Samuele.
Gioacchino brought back to the temple with the child, his gifts: ten lambs, twelve calves and a hundred spotless goats.
The oriental iconography highlights, making it famous, the meeting at the city gate, of Anna and Gioacchino returning from the mountain, known as "the meeting at the golden gate" of Jerusalem; but of which there is no historical news.
The pious parents, grateful to God for the gift they had received, grew up with love little Mary, who at the age of three was taken to the Temple of Jerusalem, to be consecrated to the service of the temple itself, according to the promise made by both, when they implored the grace of a son.
After the age of three, Joachim no longer appears in the texts, while Anna is still mentioned in other later apocryphal gospels, which say that she lived until the age of eighty, it is also said that Anna was widowed twice more, having two children whose offspring is considered, especially in German-speaking countries, as the "Holy Kinship" of Jesus.
The cult of Gioacchino and Anna spread first in the East and then in the West (also as a result of the numerous relics brought by the Crusades); the first manifestation of the cult in the East, dates back to the time of Justinian, who had a church built in 550 ca. in Constantinople in honor of Sant'Anna.
The affirmation of the cult in the West was gradual and later in time, its image can already be found among the mosaics of the triumphal arch of S. Maria Maggiore (5th century) and among the frescoes of S. Maria Antiqua (7th century); but its cult began around the 10th century in Naples and then gradually spread to other places, until it reached its maximum diffusion in the 15th century, to the point that Pope Gregory XIII (1502-1585), in 1584, decided to include the celebration of Sant'Anna. Anna in the Roman Missal, extending it to the whole Church; but her cult was more intense in Northern Europe also thanks to the book by Giovanni Trithemius "Tractatus de laudibus sanctissimae Annae" (Mainz, 1494).
Gioacchino was left discreetly aside for long centuries and then included in the celebrations on a different date; Anna on July 25th by the Greeks in the East and July 26th by the Latins in the West, Joachim from 1584 was remembered first on March 20th, then in 1788 on the Sunday of the Octave of the Assumption, in 1913 he settled on August 16th, until he rejoined his wife on July 26th in the new liturgical calendar.
Artists of all times have depicted Anna almost always in groups, such as Anna, Gioacchino and little Mary, or sitting on a high chair as an ancient matron with Mary child next to her, or even in the 'Trinitarian' pose, that is, with the Madonna and the baby Jesus, so as to indicate the three generations present.
Jesus says in the Gospel "From the fruit you will know the plant" and we know the flower and the fruit derived from the ancient plant: the Virgin, Immaculate since conception, she who preserved from original sin was to become the living tabernacle of God made man.
From the holiness of the fruit, that is, of Mary, we deduce the holiness of her parents Anna and Gioacchino.