Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord (Corpus Christi), Year C

Scripture Readings: Book of Genesis 14:18-20; First Letter of Saint Paul the Corinthians 11:23-26; Gospel According to Saint Luke 9:11-17

On the night before giving His life on the cross, Jesus instituted the Eucharist, the gift of his Body and Blood, in the form of bread and wine, as the perpetual passover sacrifice for his followers. This was done in the context of what is traditionally called the Last Supper. The solemnity we celebrate this Sunday centers on the gift of the Body and Blood of the Lord, which we partake in at Holy Mass (the Eucharist) until the Lord comes again in glory at the end of the ages.

Instituting the Eucharist at the time when the Jewish Passover lambs were being sacrificed, Jesus inaugurated the Christian Passover. As the ancient rite commemorated the freedom of God’s people from slavery in Egypt, so the Christian ritual recalls freedom from sin and death and the gift of new life being offered in and through Christ, who rose from the dead to bring eternal life.

A happy echo of this feast is often seen and heard in the rite of First Communion on Corpus Christi Sunday, when children, and sometimes adults, come to receive for the first time the consecrated bread and wine at the Mass, the Holy Eucharist.

Authentic faith and genuine devotion to God’s are often beautifully expressed at First Communion Masses, and that was certainly the case of my own First Communion on Mother’s Day in 1960, at the end of first grade at Saint Charles Borromeo School in Portland, Oregon. It was a joyous and faith-filled day for us children and our families in attendance. Those were simpler times and I do recall that few if any pictures or videos were taken during the actual ceremony. For sure they were afterwards, but not during!

Did we children in that long ago day really understand the fullness of the mystery of which we were partaking? How could we, but we all have to start somewhere, and the kindly Holy Child nuns had us reverently and genuinely approaching the altar of the Lord in the hope of receiving not ordinary bread, but the Bread of Life, the very Body of Christ. In those days we did not receive from the chalice, but we knew we were receiving of the fullness of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood even in the tiny host.

While the celebration of the Lord’s Body and Blood has been taking place since the Last Supper and continues to be celebrated at every Holy Mass, the more formal feast of “Corpus Christi” has been observed since 1246, beginning in the diocese of Liege in Belgium. The feast entered the Roman Missal for use in the Latin Church later in the same century, incorporating many of the texts composed by the Dominican Saint Thomas Aquinas, who lived from 1225 to 1274. Aquinas’ words became the hymns for the Mass and Divine Office (Liturgy of the Houses) of this great feast.

From its origin in the Middle Ages, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi was intended to affirm Catholic belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Christ in the consecrated bread and wine at Mass. The feast came to be accompanied with processions where the Blessed Sacrament, held in an elaborate monstrance, would be carried to “altars of repose,” for adoration by the faithful and Benediction (blessing) with the Blessed Sacrament.

This practice is still carried out in many places and holds strong memories for me from my home parish celebrating the feast. In those days (the early 1960’s), the Corpus Christi Mass with procession and Benediction afterwards was held on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday. Why Thursday? The idea then was to recall the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. Today Catholics normally keep the feast on the Sunday following Trinity Sunday.

Popular piety has certainly waned in many places since the late 1960’s, especially in cultures other than African, Asian and Latino. Nonetheless, in the best Catholic tradition, the Eucharist, Holy Mass, wherever it is celebrated, remains the source and summit of belief and practice.

Firm belief in the Body and Blood Christ and regular reception of the Blessed Sacrament or Holy Communion is fundamental to Catholic doctrine, spirituality and growth in holiness. This is our inheritance. Let us joyfully embrace the gift of “finest wheat” which God offers us regularly, even every day.

The Protestant reformers of the sixteenth century, including Zwingli, Calvin, Luther and others, taught that the Holy Eucharist was simply a symbol. The unbroken teaching of the Church is that we behold and receive in the Eucharist the Real Presence of the Risen Lord, who promised to be with us until the end of time. It is a great mystery yet at the same time a simple truth: God-is-with-us in a very special and singular way in the Blessed Sacrament, both received at Holy Communion and adored in the tabernacle or exposed on the altar at Exposition and Benediction.

The Mass, Holy Eucharist, is the sacrifice or offering of the new covenant in the Blood of Christ. It is likewise the offering of the faithful, God’s people, united to Jesus in praise of the One God.

Saint Paul the Apostle preached that the entire life of a Christian is a prolongation of the Eucharist, as a spiritual sacrifice offered to God in union with Christ. For this reason, Saint Paul exhorted his hearers to offer themselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. This is the message for each of us today as well and the heart of our religion and worship, in spirit and in truth (see Saint Paul’s Letter to the Roman, chapter 12, verse 1).

We should not come to Mass out of mere obligation, but because the Eucharistic celebration is an integral part of our life in Christ and our communion with others. The celebration and reception of the Eucharist should be our strength and joy, a commitment in faith and love that gives meaning to all our existence.

We aren’t Christians because we go to Mass, but we go to Mass because we are Christians, to celebrate God’s unbounded love for us and to participate in the action that followers of Christ have engaged in since the Lord walked among his own.

The Mass never ends, we might say, because at the conclusion of every Mass we are “sent forth,” to announce the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ, to the ends of the earth, by our words and especially by our deeds (“actions, not words,” the nuns always taught us as children). As tabernacles of the Lord, by receiving His Body and Blood, we are commissioned with a special task that not everyone has embraced: to be bearers of Christ, christophers (cristoferos, in Greek), to all people, until our final breath. Could there be a higher call?

Abbot Christian Leisy, OSB,

Feast of St.Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony's Feast, New York in the seventies Rocco Galatioto B1195—1231
Saint Anthony is the Patron Saint of Debt, Lost Articles,
Poverty, Portugal
His Feast Day is June 13.

Always depicted with the baby Jesus, Saint Anthony of Padua is the most popular saint in the world. The unconditional love and kindness that are the essence of Saint Anthony’s nature are best represented by this story. While walking through his garden, an older relative heard the giggling and laughing of a baby. He looked up to see Anthony with the baby Jesus in his arms, happily carrying him and talking to him. The baby kissed Anthony and disappeared. In his novena, we beg Saint Anthony to whisper our request to the infant. Since babies are not judgmental, this incarnation of Christ will surely grant our petitions. Because of this special relationship, Saint Anthony is approachable by all, for large and small favors alike.

Born in Lisbon, Portugal, to noble parents, he was baptized Fernando. He took the name Anthony upon entering the Franciscan order. He intended to preach in Morocco and, if necessary die a martyr for his faith. Instead, after arriving there, he became very ill and was sent home. His ship was blown off course and he ended up in Messina, Sicily. He then attended the great meeting of all Franciscans, where he was very moved to be seated next to the order’s founder, Saint Francis of Assisi.

Saint Anthony was magnetic and charismatic. Sent by the Franciscans to be a traveling preacher around Lombardy and southern France, and with only prayer as preparation, he gave powerful speeches, overwhelming his audiences with his love for a more spiritual life. Saint Anthony was based in Padua, Italy, but he attracted huge crowds wherever he went. Many swore he radiated a holy aura.

Saint Anthony spent the last few years of his life working to help relieve the burden of debt from the poor of Padua. Saint Anthony’s Bread, devoted to feeding the hungry, is a charity that he started that is still in existence. After their novena prayers are answered, many people make donations to this organization in thanks.

Worn out by his travels, Saint Anthony died at the age of thirty—six. His reputation for compassion was so legendary, that even a few weeks after his death, when a child drowned in the river and his mother cried out to Saint Anthony in anguish, the child miraculously came back to life. Due to the many other miracles and answered prayers that followed his death, his consecration as a saint is the quickest on record, taking only one year.

Saint Anthony, credited with an extraordinary range of intercessionary powers and known as “The Wonder Worker”, is most famous as the saint of lost articles. After a novice borrowed his psalter and failed to return it, Saint Anthony prayed to get the book back. The novice then had a terrifying heavenly vision that forced him to return it. In 1263, when Saint Anthony’s tomb was reopened, it was found that his tongue had never decomposed. His tongue, jawbones, and vocal chords are on display in the cathedral at Padua. He is the patron saint of lost articles, the patron saint of the poor, and the patron saint of Portugal. Saint Anthony is usually depicted with the Infant Jesus, his returned psalter, and lilies to represent his purity.

Novena to Saint Anthony of Padua

O holy Saint Anthony, gentlest of saints, your love for God and charity for his creatures made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited on your word, which were ever ready to speak for those in trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, I implore of you to obtain for me(mention your request here). The answer to my prayer may require a miracle; even so, you are the saint of miracles. O gentle and loving Saint Anthony, whose heart was ever filled with human sympathy. whisper my petition into the ears of the sweet infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms, and the gratitude of my heart will be ever yours.

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be.

This novena can be said nine times in a row for nine days in a row.

It can also be said every Tuesday in church. Say this novena nine times in a row in front of a lit votive candle to Saint Anthony, for nine weeks in a row.

Visions of Mary Book

Our Lady of Fatima

In honor of the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, we are making available Visions of Mary book. Click on link below.

VisonsofMary_ebook2016v2

The Roman Catholic love and respect for the Virgin Mary divides it from other sects of Christianity. Mary is not only revered as the Mother of God but also as the Mother of all Humanity, and her image continually watches over every aspect in the daily life of Catholic countries. She is credited with working miracles through pictures, statues, and sacred earthly places. She is the inspiration of much of the world’s greatest music, art, and architectural works. Her spiritual gifts are recognized in the East and both Hindus and Buddhists refer to her as Mother Mary. Muslims revere her as the mother of a great prophet and she is the only woman with her own chapter in the Koran. As a human being Mary is able to relate directly to the major and minor sufferings of mankind. For this reason she is not prayed to as a goddess, but rather, called on by Catholics to aid them in their prayers. It is thought that she shares her constant flow of grace with those who ask, bringing them closer to God. Thomas Merton wrote, “Mary does not rule us from without, but from within. She does not change us by changing the world around us, but she changes the world around us by first changing our own inner lives.”  

 In chapter 2 of John’s Gospel is the story of the Wedding at Cana: On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish
ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the
beginning of his signs in Cana in Galiliee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him. 

 It was at His mother’s request that Jesus performed His first great miracle. To Him, as a divine spiritual being, running out of wine at a wedding was no great shame. Mary, being human, realized how embarrassing such an event could be for the bride and groom. Because He so respected His mother, Jesus changed the water at the wedding into wine. As a result of this act, His disciples became true believers. The story of the wedding at Cana is frequently cited to illustrate why Catholics have such fervent love for the Virgin Mary. It is also proof of her place in God’s divine plan for mankind. Through her prodding, the first miracle of Christ was performed and because of this first miracle, those who might have doubted Christ’s teachings became believers.

For Catholics, Mary sets an example of a human being who accepts all that God wills without questioning. When Mary was a young girl, the Archangel Gabriel came to her with the announcement, “Hail Mary, full of grace…” Though she was a virgin, she accepted and gave her consent to the Incarnation of Christ. For this reason she is considered one who collaborates with the work of God. Because she is the mother of Christ and He is part of the Holy Trinity, she is given the title Theotokos or “Mother of God.” It is believed that Mary had full knowledge of the terrible fate that awaited her Son on Earth. Yet she also had the faith to withstand His torments because she knew that He would never die. After His Ascension into heaven, she worked with the Apostles, serving as the highest example of an advanced spiritual being who lived by Christ’s teachings while on Earth. Because of this, Catholics
believe that she herself did not die, but was assumed into
heaven.  The first sighting of Mary after her Assumption occurred in Puy, France in a.d. 47. She has been appearing to humanity ever since, offering unconditional love, healing, moral support, and in the last two centuries, warnings over the fate of mankind.

On the site of what is now Chartres Cathedral in France, the druids had a shrine devoted to the “Virgin who gives birth” one hundred years before Christ. The coming of Mary was predicted by the prophet Elijah, who led a small community devoted to her on what is now Mount Carmel in Israel eight hundred years before her birth. The oldest proved artistic images of Mary were wall paintings done in the Catacombs of Rome in the late first century. Pagans who were accustomed to worshipping both male and female deities felt comfortable with images of Mary. They related her to the earth and to their own mothers. Statues and paintings of her holding the Christ child illustrated the basic bond between Christ and humanity, and served to bring many into the Christian fold. By the Middle Ages, a time when art, religious worship, and daily life were completely harmonious, the cult of Mary was a mainstay of both the Roman and Orthodox Churches.

The mystical writer and doctor of the Churches, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux insisted in the power of Mary’s grace. He saw her as the messenger of original spiritual values and the ultimate mediator, always pleading the cause of the human race. Catholic art, which is believed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, abounded with images of her, and the world’s greatest cathedrals were erected in her honor. When the founders of the Reformation sought to stem the tide of Papal excess by bringing Christian worship back to its biblical roots, Mary’s role in Christian worship was reassessed.

Since there are few mentions of Mary in the Bible, reverence for her as a heavenly mediator was looked upon as superstition. She was considered to be a holy woman, long dead and buried. Visual art was considered a distraction to spiritual worship and images of Mary were considered idolatrous; many of the great Marian shrines of Germany
and England were summarily destroyed. Because of this, the Virgin Mary became an important symbol of the Counter-Reformation. To Catholics, her denigration by the newly formed Protestant sects was equal to the denigration of her Son. The belief in her place as the most exalted human was expounded with a new force. Religious orders such as the Jesuits and the Carmelites spread devotions centered around the gifts of the rosary to Saint Dominic and the scapular to Saint Simon Stock. The baroque art movement was embraced in Catholic countries as a fervid symbol of their belief in art as a religiousexperience and as a direct reaction against the perceived dourness of Protestant churches. As visual representations of the Virgin Mary became more dramatic, so did stories of her rescuing or advising humanity. Most of these tales center on Mary acting through statues, paintings, or dreams. 

The cult of Mary has remained strong in the Mediterranean and in Latin America. These are places where women traditionally hold the family
together. Popular depictions of Mary vary from country to country and she seems to adapt the persona of the culture in which she appears. Italy and Latin America welcome the sweeter, long suffering, human, and maternal Mary. In France the Virgin Mary takes on a more ethereal and graceful persona. Spain, Portugal, and eastern Europe all have apparitions made by Mary that are more stern and serious. 

It is said that the modern age of Mary was ushered in with the visits paid to Saint Catherine Laboure in 1831. Since then, the Blessed Mother has been seen steadily by seers in almost every country in the world. In this book we relate some of the Marian apparitions that are sanctioned by the Catholic Church; there are thousands more that are well known but unofficial. When Mary visits, she appears in the race of and speaking the language of the person who sees her. She can be sweet and kind or angry and insistent. The visionaries who see her enjoy no great material reward. They are often
people who have little religious belief. They are usually mocked and harassed by their own community. Many have died young, not having been spared by the parameters of the lives they were born into. Some are honored in their lifetime, some choose to retire from the world, others continue on with their lives, never again experiencing any supernatural or spiritual events. The messages they relay from Mary for the human race are all basically the same, “Do whatever He tells you.”  

The Blessed Mother & Saint Anne

maryeu1 copyThe Roman Catholic love and respect for the Virgin Mary divides it from other sects of Christianity. Mary is not only revered as the Mother of God but also as the Mother of all Humanity, and her image continually watches over every aspect in the daily life of Catholic countries. She is credited with working miracles through pictures, statues, and sacred earthly places. She is the inspiration of much of the world’s greatest music, art, and architectural works. Her spiritual gifts are recognized in the East and both Hindus and Buddhists refer to her as Mother Mary. Muslims revere her as the mother of a great prophet and she is the only woman with her own chapter in the Koran. As a human being Mary is able to relate directly to the major and minor sufferings of mankind. For this reason she is not prayed to as a goddess, but rather, called on by Catholics to aid them in their prayers. It is thought that she shares her constant flow of grace with those who ask, bringing them closer to God. Thomas Merton wrote, “Mary does not rule us from without, but from within. She does not change us by changing the world around us, but she changes the world around us by first changing our own inner lives.”  

 In chapter 2 of John’s Gospel is the story of the Wedding at Cana: On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galiliee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him. 

 It was at His mother’s request that Jesus performed His first great miracle. To Him, as a divine spiritual being, running out of wine at a wedding was no great shame. Mary, being human, realized how embarrassing such an event could be for the bride and groom. Because He so respected His mother, Jesus changed the water at the wedding into wine. As a result of this act, His disciples became true believers. The story of the wedding at Cana is frequently cited to illustrate why Catholics have such fervent love for the Virgin Mary. It is also proof of her place in God’s divine plan for mankind. Through her prodding, the first miracle of Christ was performed and because of this first miracle, those who might have doubted Christ’s teachings became believers.

For Catholics, Mary sets an example of a human being who accepts all that God wills without questioning. When Mary was a young girl, the Archangel Gabriel came to her with the announcement, “Hail Mary, full of grace…” Though she was a virgin, she accepted and gave her consent to the Incarnation of Christ. For this reason she is considered one who collaborates with the work of God. Because she is the mother of Christ and He is part of the Holy Trinity, she is given the title Theotokos or “Mother of God.” It is believed that Mary had full knowledge of the terrible fate that awaited her Son on Earth. Yet she also had the faith to withstand His torments because she knew that He would never die. After His Ascension into heaven, she worked with the Apostles, serving as the highest example of an advanced spiritual being who lived by Christ’s teachings while on Earth. Because of this, Catholics
believe that she herself did not die, but was assumed into
heaven.  The first sighting of Mary after her Assumption occurred in Puy, France in a.d. 47. She has been appearing to humanity ever since, offering unconditional love, healing, moral support, and in the last two centuries, warnings over the fate of mankind.

On the site of what is now Chartres Cathedral in France, the druids had a shrine devoted to the “Virgin who gives birth” one hundred years before Christ. The coming of Mary was predicted by the prophet Elijah, who led a small community devoted to her on what is now Mount Carmel in Israel eight hundred years before her birth. The oldest proved artistic images of Mary were wall paintings done in the Catacombs of Rome in the late first century. Pagans who were accustomed to worshipping both male and female deities felt comfortable with images of Mary. They related her to the earth and to their own mothers. Statues and paintings of her holding the Christ child illustrated the basic bond between Christ and humanity, and served to bring many into the Christian fold. By the Middle Ages, a time when art, religious worship, and daily life were completely harmonious, the cult of Mary was a mainstay of both the Roman and Orthodox Churches.

The mystical writer and doctor of the Churches, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux insisted in the power of Mary’s grace. He saw her as the messenger of original spiritual values and the ultimate mediator, always pleading the cause of the human race. Catholic art, which is believed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, abounded with images of her, and the world’s greatest cathedrals were erected in her honor. When the founders of the Reformation sought to stem the tide of Papal excess by bringing Christian worship back to its biblical roots, Mary’s role in Christian worship was reassessed. Since there are few mentions of Mary in the Bible, reverence for her as a heavenly mediator was looked upon as superstition. She was considered to be a holy woman, long dead and buried. Visual art was considered a distraction to spiritual worship and images of Mary were considered idolatrous; many of the great Marian shrines of Germany and England were summarily destroyed. Because of this, the Virgin Mary became an important symbol of the Counter-Reformation. To Catholics, her denigration by the newly formed Protestant sects was equal to the denigration of her Son. The belief in her place as the most exalted human was expounded with a new force. Religious orders such as the Jesuits and the Carmelites spread devotions centered around the gifts of the rosary to Saint Dominic and the scapular to Saint Simon Stock. The baroque art movement was embraced in Catholic countries as a fervid symbol of their belief in art as a religiousexperience and as a direct reaction against the perceived dourness of Protestant churches. As visual representations of the Virgin Mary became more dramatic, so did stories of her rescuing or advising humanity. Most of these tales center on Mary acting through statues, paintings, or dreams. 

The cult of Mary has remained strong in the Mediterranean and in Latin America. These are places where women traditionally hold the family together. Popular depictions of Mary vary from country to country and she seems to adapt the persona of the culture in which she appears. Italy and Latin America welcome the sweeter, long suffering, human, and maternal Mary. In France the Virgin Mary takes on a more ethereal and graceful persona. Spain, Portugal, and eastern Europe all have apparitions made by Mary that are more stern and serious. 

It is said that the modern age of Mary was ushered in with the visits paid to Saint Catherine Laboure in 1831. Since then, the Blessed Mother has been seen steadily by seers in almost every country in the world. In this book we relate some of the Marian apparitions that are sanctioned by the Catholic Church; there are thousands more that are well known but unofficial. When Mary visits, she appears in the race of and speaking the language of the person who sees her. She can be sweet and kind or angry and insistent. The visionaries who see her enjoy no great material reward. They are often
people who have little religious belief. They are usually mocked and harassed by their own community. Many have died young, not having been spared by the parameters of the lives they were born into. Some are honored in their lifetime, some choose to retire from the world, others continue on with their lives, never again experiencing any supernatural or spiritual events. The messages they relay from Mary for the human race are all basically the same, “Do whatever He tells you.”

Hail Mary Full of Grace! the Lord is with you; Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

St.Anne_Small_image

SAINT ANNE
First Century
Feast Day: July 26
Patron of: Canada, Brittany, Broommakers, Cabinetmakers, Childless people, Grandparents, Miners, Lacemakers, Pregnancy, Housewives, Seafarers, Rain
Invoked for: protection in pregnancy and childbirth, help in rasing children, for a good death, finding a husband, protection in thunder storms, protection in sea storms
Symbols: Book, throne, golden gate

As the mother of the Virgin Mary, Saint Anne is frequently depicted with her husband Joachim who shares her feast day. While his cult was stronger in earlier times, hers quickly spread from the Eastern to Western churches, making her more universally popular. The story of Saint Anne and her family was first told in the second century as part of The Protevangelium of James, a gospel written about the early life of Jesus Christ. Widely read by early Christians, it was never accepted as part of the New Testament canon. According to that text, Anne and Joachim had a childless marriage for almost 20 years. When Joachim was presenting his offering for the dedication of a new temple, he was shunned by the priest, who declared his childlessness was a curse from God.  In humiliation, he left his community to live in the wilderness for forty days of prayer. When his wife heard what had happened, she begged the Lord to be allowed to conceive and promised to dedicate any child she might have to the service of the Lord. An angel appeared to Joachim where he was staying and said, “Delayed conceptions and infertile childbearing are all the more wonderful! Your wife will bear you a daughter and you will call her Mary. As you have vowed, she will be consecrated to the Lord at infancy and filled with the Holy Spirit from her mother’s womb.” He was told to go back to the city and meet his wife at the golden gate of Jerusalem. Saint Anne, distraught because she did not know where her husband was, was visited by the same angel who told her that she would meet her husband at the gate as a sign that her prayers were answered. They were overjoyed to see each other. Mary was conceived and at the age of three her parents honored their pledge to dedicate her to God. Anne and Joachim took the one thing that meant the most to them, their only child to the temple to be raised in religious service. According to an early account of her life, when Joachim died, Anne married his brother Cleophas with whom she had another daughter named Mary. When he died, she married for a third time and had a third daughter named Mary. The first Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, the second Mary gave birth to James the Lesser, Joseph the Just, Simon and Jude. The third gave birth to James the Greater and John the Evangelist. Being the grandmother of Christ and many of his apostles, made Saint Anne a crucial branch on the family tree of Jesus Christ.  For this reason she is often depicted as the largest figure seated on a throne holding a miniature Mary who holds an even smaller young Jesus. 

Saint Anne did not live to see the torment and execution of Christ. Because she was spared this sorrow she is invoked for an easy death. Sometime after the resurrection of Christ, Mary Magdalene, her brother Lazarus and other apostles were driven from Jerusalem because of their faith. They set out in a boat carrying the remains of Saint Anne, landing in Marseille, France. The remains of Saint Anne were taken further inland from the coast to what is now Apt, France where they were concealed in a crypt. These events were transcribed in the Martyrology of Apt, dating from the Second Century. This Martyrology was consulted in vain by Charlemagne nearly 700 years later in an attempt to locate the remains of Saint Anne. With the emperor in attendance, a ceremony was held to reconsecrate the Cathedral of Apt, a 14 year old deaf mute began to strike at the main altar with his staff, greatly disturbing the ceremony. The boys persistence so impressed Charlemagne, that he ordered that the stairs of main altar be opened up after the mass.  An underground door sealed with stones was uncovered. When these were removed an ancient catacomb was revealed. The boy led the group through the underground church and began to strike at a wall. When the wall was broken down a crypt was found with a casket of cypress wood. Inscribed on it were the words “Here lies the body of Blessed Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary.” Charlemagne had the recollection of these events written up, notarized and sent to the pope in Rome. The original papers of this correspondence are still in existence today.

The Cathedral of Apt became an important pilgrimage site. The cult of Saint Anne spread throughout France becoming particularly strong in Brittany. There are many Breton legends claiming Saint Anne as a Breton queen who had to escape a brutal husband. Angels led her to a ship which landed in Jerusalem where she gave birth to the Virgin Mary. In the East, her feast was celebrated from the beginning of Christianity.  As celebration of the Feast of Saint Anne spread through Western Europe, her patronage of fertility was extended to the farm lands. In Italy people referred to rain as “Saint Anne’s gift” and in Germany rain was referred to as “Saint Anne’s dowery”. Martin Luther wrote that he became a monk because of a promise he made to Saint Anne while he was caught in a terrifying thunder storm. In the new world, Canada is still known as the “Land of Saint Anne”.  In 1650 a group of sailors were caught in a storm on the Saint Lawrence river. As they were about to perish they invoked Saint Anne for help, promising to build a shrine to her wherever they first landed. They washed ashore on the north bank of the river at Beaupre. Today, the Cathedral of Saint Anne de Beaupre, now standing on that site attracts millions of pilgrims from around the world. The chapel is filled with ex-votos donated to the church from people who have received miraculous healings.

Though not a biblical figure, Saint Anne was considered second only to Saint Joseph in importance by the early Eastern Church. Her role as a powerful matriach and grandmother to Jesus Christ served as a strong example in Western Europe where many communities depended on the wisdom and advice of the aged. To many, she is an accessible representative of a state of life and she is invoked for a variety of favors. Because of her three marriages, young women ask her aid in finding a husband with the prayer, “Saint Anne, find me a man.”  Her patronage of the sea and storms stems from the voyage her remains made with Lazarus and Mary Magdalene. She is frequently depicted with an open book, instructing her daughter Mary. Because her womb held Mary she is the patron of miners who dig up secret treasures. Since tabernacles were once made only of wood, and her womb was considered a human tabernacle, she is also the patron of carpenters and cabinet makers. 

The Hebrew name for Anne is Hannah, which means “grace”. A common saying is, “All Anne’s are beautiful” and because of this the  name “Anne” became the most popular girl’s name in Central Europe during the 19th Century. Adding “Anne” after a girl’s name is still common practice, particularly the combination of Mary Anne. Canada and Brittany hold major celebrations in Saint Anne’s honor on her feast day. 

Prayer to Saint Anne

O glorious Saint Anne, you are filled with compassion for

those who invoke you and with love for those who suffer!

Heavily burdened with the weight of my troubles, 

I cast myself at your feet and humbly beg of you to take

the present intention which I recommend to you in your

special care (state intention).

Please recommend it to your daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary,

and place it before the throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it

to a happy issue.

Continue to intercede for me until my request is granted.

But, above all, obtain for me the grace one-day to see my

God face to face, and with you and Mary and all the saints

to praise and bless Him for all eternity. Amen.

O Jesus, Holy Mary, Saint Anne, help me now and at the hour

of my death.

Good Saint Anne, intercede for me.

 

Meditation for Holy Week

IMG_0197Deut 6:14-7

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise.