A novena preparing for the Feast of Saints Ann and Joachim, the parents of Mary, the mother of Jesus, July 26 has begun, reminding us of the role parents and grandparents play in raising children. A few years ago I visited the ancient ruins of the temple in Jerusalem from the time of Jesus where Jewish women were fervently praying with their daughters before the temple’s western wall.
Ann and her daughter Mary must have prayed here too.
The picture above is a model of the temple from Jesus’ time at the Israel Museum. Tradition says Ann and Joachim were closely associated with the temple and may have lived nearby. An ancient church honoring St. Ann stands today near the Pool of Bethesda, near the temple. There, a paralyzed man was healed by Jesus. (John 5, 1-18) That’s the church below.
A statue of Ann and her daughter Mary is in the Jerusalem church. Ann is teaching her daughter at her side.
What is she teaching her? Some statues show her teaching Mary the scriptures. I’ve seen a statue, like the one below, showing Ann teaching her the ABCs and numbers. That’s what parents and grandparents do, isn’t it? they teach children life’s basics: how to live and how to pray.
Still true today. Parents and grandparents, the next generation is at your side. Ann and Joachim pray for us; show us the way.