Saint Anne and Saint Joachim, both descendants of King David, and who would become the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, were prepared and created by especial decree according to the heart of God. In doing so He provided Mary with a noble and kingly ancestry from whom she should descend, and had selected for her most holy parents, for there is no doubt that if better and more apt parents existed anywhere in the world, the Almighty would have selected them for her, who was to be the one chosen by God as His Holy and Immaculate Mother.
The most fortunate St. Anne had a house in Bethlehem and was a most chaste, humble and beautiful maiden. From her childhood she led a most virtuous, holy and retired life, enjoying great and continual enlightenment in exalted contemplation. Withal she was most diligent and industrious, thus attaining perfection in both the active and the contemplative life. She had an infused knowledge of the divine Scriptures and a profound understanding of its hidden mysteries and sacraments. In the infused virtues of faith, hope and love she was unexcelled. Equipped with all these gifts, she continued to pray for the coming of the Messiah. Her prayers were so acceptable to the Lord, that to her He could but answer with the words of the Spouse: “Thou hast wounded my heart with one of the hairs of thy neck.” (Cant. 4,9) Therefore, without doubt, St. Anne holds a high position among the saints of the Old Testament, who by their merits hastened the coming of the Redeemer.
St. Anne prayed for a worthy husband at the same time that St. Joachim prayed for a good wife. God disposed that they would unite in marriage and become the parents of her, who was to be the mother of the incarnate God. St. Gabriel was sent to St. Anne to inform her, saying: “The Most high give thee his blessing, servant of God, and be thy salvation. His Majesty has heard thy petitions and He wishes thee to persevere therein and that thou continue to clamor for the coming of the Redeemer. It is His will, that thou accept Joachim as thy spouse, for he is a man of upright heart and acceptable to the Lord. Walk in the straight paths of justice and let thy soul’s converse be in heaven. Continuing to pray for the Messiah, be thou joyful in the Lord, who is thy salvation.”
The Lord forestalled the holy matron Anne with the blessings of his sweetness, communicating to her the most exalted graces and infused science, which prepared her for the happy destiny of becoming the mother of her, who was to be the Mother of God Himself. As the works of God are perfect and consummate, it was natural to expect that He should make her a worthy mother of that most pure creature, who should be superior in sanctity to all creatures and inferior only to God.
St. Anne prayed with humble subjection and confidence. “Most High God, my Lord, Creator and Preserver of the universe, whom my soul reveres as the true God, infinite, holy and eternal! Prostrate in thy real presence I will speak, though I am but dust and ashes proclaiming my need and my affliction. Lord God uncreated, make us worthy of thy benediction, and give us holy fruit, in order that we may offer it to thy service in the temple. Remember, O Lord, that Anne, thy servant, the mother of Samuel, was sterile and that by thy generous mercy she received the fulfillment of her desires. I feel within me a courage which incites and animates me to ask Thee to show me the same mercy. Hear then, O sweetest Lord and Master, my humble petition: remember the sacrifices, offerings and services of my ancestors and the favors, which Thy almighty arm wrought in them. I wish to offer to Thee, O Lord, an oblation pleasing and acceptable in thy eyes: but the greatest in my power, is my soul, my faculties and inclinations given to Thee, and my whole being. If Thou look upon me from thy throne giving me issue, I will from this moment sanctify and offer it for thy service in the temple. Lord God of Israel, if it should be thy pleasure and good will to look upon this lowly and impoverished creature, and to console thy servant Joachim, grant me my prayer and may in all things be fulfilled thy holy and eternal will.”
The holy archangel Gabriel appeared to St. Anne in human form more resplendent than the sun, and said to her: “Anne, servant of God, I am an angel sent from the council of the Most High, who in divine condescension looks upon the humble of the earth. Good is incessant prayer and humble confidence. The Lord has heard thy petitions, for His is nigh to those who call upon Him with living faith and hope, and who expect his salvation. If He delays hearing their clamors and defers the fulfillment of their prayers, it is in order to dispose them to receive and to oblige Himself to give much more than they ask and desire. Prayer and almsgiving open the treasures of the Lord, the omnipotent King, and incline Him to be lavish in mercy toward those who ask. Thou and Joachim have prayed for the Fruit of benediction and the Most High has resolved to give you holy and wonderful Fruit; and by it He will enrich you with heavenly gifts, granting to you much more than you have asked. For having humiliated yourselves in prayer, the Lord wishes to magnify Himself in conceding your petitions: because those, who in humble confidence pray to Him without belittling his infinite power, are most agreeable to the Lord. The humility, faith and the alms of Joachim and of thyself have come before the throne of the Most High and now He sends me, his angel, in order to give thee news full of joy for thy heart: His Majesty wishes, that thou be most fortunate and blessed. He chooses thee to be the mother of her who is to conceive and bring forth the Onlybegotten of the Father. Thou shalt bring forth a daughter, who by divine disposition shall be called MARY. She shall be blessed among women and full of the Holy Ghost. She shall be the cloud that shall drop the dew of heaven for the refreshment of mortals; and in her shall be fulfilled the prophecies of thy ancestors. She shall be the portal of life and salvation for the sons of Adam.”
After the conception of the body which was to be that of the Mother of Grace, God permitted a singular favor to St. Anne. She had an intellectual and most exalted vision or appearance of His Majesty, in which, having communicated to her great enlightenment and gifts of grace. He disposed her and forestalled her with the blessings of his sweetness. Entirely purifying her, He spiritualized the inferior part of her body and elevated her soul and spirit to such a degree, that thenceforward she never attended to any human affair, which could impede her union with God in all the affections of her mind and will, and she never lost sight of Him. At the same time He said to her:
“Anne, my servant, I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: my blessing and my eternal light is with thee. I have created man in order to raise him from the dust and to make him the inheritor of my glory and participator of my Divinity. I also showered my gifts upon him and placed him in a position and state of high perfection; but he listened to the serpent and lost all. Out of my goodness and in fulfillment of the promises made through my holy Prophets, I wish to forget his ingratitude and to repair the damage, by sending my Onlybegotten as their Redeemer. The heavens are closed; the ancient Patriarchs are detained, deprived of the sight of my face and of eternal life promised to them. The inclination of my bounteousness is as it were strained in not communicating itself to the human race. Now, at this time do I wish to show mercy, giving them the person of the Eternal Word, to become man, to be born of a Woman, who shall be Mother and Virgin, immaculate, pure, blessed and holy above all creatures. Of Her, my chosen and only One, I make thee mother.”
St. Anne heard with profound humility the voice of the Most High and with a submissive heart she answered:
“Lord, God Eternal, it is the essence of Thy immense bounty and the work of Thy powerful arm, to raise from the dust those that are poor and despised. I acknowledge myself, O Lord, a creature unworthy of such mercies and benefits. What shall this lowly worm do in Thy presence? Thy own Being and Thy own magnificence alone can I offer in thanksgiving, and my soul and all its faculties in sacrifice. Use me, O Lord, according to thy will, since to it I resign myself entirely. I wish to be as completely Thy own as such a favor requires; but what shall I do, who am not worthy to be the slave of her who is to be the Mother of the Onlybegotten and my daughter? This I know, and shall confess always: that I am a poor creature; but at the feet of thy greatness I await the course of Thy mercy, who art a kind Father and the all-powerful God. Make me, O Lord, worthy in Thy eyes of the dignity Thou bestowest upon me.”
At the time of the infusion of the soul into the body of Mary most holy, the Almighty desired that her mother, the holy Anne, should feel and recognize the presence of the Divinity in a most exalted manner. She was filled with the Holy Ghost and was moved interiorly with a joy and devotion altogether above the ordinary. She was wrapped in exalted ecstasy, in which she was enlightened with deep intelligences of the most hidden mysteries and praised the Lord with new canticles of joy. These effects lasted during all the rest of her life; but they were greater during the nine months in which she bore in her womb the Treasure of heaven. For during that time these benefits were more constantly renewed and repeated with continual intelligences of the Holy Scriptures and of their most profound sacraments. O most fortunate woman! Let all the nations and generations of the world extol thee and call thee blessed!
St. Anne’s feast day is July 26th.
*The information related above is from the book “Mystical City of God,” written by Venerable Mary of Agreda and carrying the imprimatur of a Catholic Archbishop. They are revelations given to the incorrupt saint by the Mother of God, and written under the command of her superiors. There can be no doubt that God can and does manifest to chosen souls hidden things in addition to what He teaches through the public ministry of His Church.
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