Grandparents, do you find yourselves worrying about your grandchildren? With the increasing frequency of grown children and their families moving out of state, more and more grandparents are finding themselves at a physical distance from their children and grandchildren. It's difficult to see them only on occasion. Or, perhaps you are one of the growing number of grandparents who either are sole caregivers or substantially involved in the care of your grandchildren. Regardless, you think and worry about them because you want the best for them.

Take heart, grandparents. You have two patron saints who are eager and capable of working in your favor – Sts. Joachim and Anne.

Joachim and Anne are the parents of our Blessed Mother Mary, which makes them the grandparents of our Lord Jesus Christ. For that reason, they have been named the patron saints of grandparents. Individually, St. Joachim is the patron saint of grandfathers and St. Anne is the patron saint of grandmothers. Together, they make a powerful pair of intercessors.

The worth and holiness of their parenting skills are apparent in the beauty and purity of Mary. To have been so desirous of following God’s will and loving him so completely is the result, not only of God’s grace, but of a proper upbringing. Having had the experience of raising the Blessed Virgin Mary, Joachim and Anne would have been well prepared for the amazing task of grandparenting Jesus. Could you imagine these proud grandparents looking on as Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man”? (Lk 2:52). That wisdom and stature had to come in part from the love and devotion with which his Mother was raised by his grandparents.

Perhaps they even had some hands-on experience in the process of raising Jesus. Did the Holy Family visit Joachim and Anne? I could imagine them telling the Child stories of wonders and God's goodness and praying and reading Scripture with him. As with all grandparents, there must have been things that Mary's parents taught their Grandson with that special flare that only a grandfather and grandmother have. I also can imagine Joachim and Anne having been concerned about Jesus’ well-being and safety just as all good grandparents do about their grandchildren. It does not mention this in Scripture, but I can’t help but wonder about it.

Not much is known about Joachim and Anne. Most of what we know comes from an apocryphal Christian writing, the Protoevangelium Jacobi (or Gospel of James), written about the year 170. According to these writings, Sts. Joachim and Anne were well respected and prominent among the Jewish community of their time. Sadly, they were childless and felt that this was a punishment from God. So, St. Joachim went into the desert to fast and pray and it is said that an angel appeared to him there and told him that he and Anne would have a daughter who would become honored throughout the world. In answer to the couple’s prayers, St. Anne conceived a child and months later, the Blessed Virgin Mary was born. In thanksgiving, they took Mary to the temple in Jerusalem at the age of three and consecrated her to the service of God. This event is commemorated as the Feast of the Presentation of Mary and is celebrated annually Nov. 21.

It’s not difficult to see the essential role that Joachim and Anne played, not only in the life of the Holy Family, but also in salvation history. For that, we owe them our veneration and gratitude. As grandparents of Jesus and saints in heaven, they have the desire and ability to intercede in our needs, especially for grandparents who seek help and guidance for their grandchildren. Sts. Joachim and Anne had a blessed life, but it certainly was not an easy one. They understand struggle and hardship, grief and worry. The marvelous thing about the saints in heaven is that we have the gift of being able to spend time with them in conversation, and it’s no different with the patron saints of grandparents. Are you wrestling with a particular problem with a grandchild? Do you feel sad and lonely because you’re not able to visit your grandchildren? Are some of your grandchildren estranged from you because of family strife? These and more are concerns that can be placed into the hands of Sts. Joachim and Anne.

We celebrate their combined feast July 26. The Collect from the day’s holy Mass is a beautiful tribute to these holy grandparents.

“O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”