Saint Joachim, Confessor

August 16

Today is the feast day of Saint Joachim.  Ora pro nobis. 

The details about the father of Our Lady were given to us by an apocryphal book, The Gospel of James. His name, Joachim, means preparation for the Lord, and Anne means grace. (5)

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876 

St. Joachim, the father of the Blessed Virgin, was a native of Nazareth, a little town in Galilee. His parents, though occupying an humble position in the world, were descendants of the holy king David. It was not without inspiration that, at his circumcision, the name of Joachim was given him; it means “Preparation for the Lord,” or, as others translate it, a preparation for the arrival of the Lord; and it has been understood by several teachers to signify that he would have a daughter whom he would prepare, by a holy education, to be the dwelling of the Redeemer of the world. Arriving at the years of manhood, he married Anna, a virtuous and chaste maiden of Bethlehem, whom, without doubt, God had gifted with especial graces, as she was chosen by Him to be the Mother of the Queen of Heaven. 

Joachim and Anna continued, after their union, to serve God with the greatest fidelity. The most perfect charity and harmony reigned in their dwelling. They had divided their possessions into three parts. The first they devoted exclusively to the honor of God and to the adornment of the temple; the second, to the poor; and the third they kept for themselves. One thing saddened the lives of Joachim and Anna. They had been married many years without being blessed with a child, and their advancing age made them despair of ever having one. Barrenness was, among their people and at their time, considered a great disgrace and a curse from Heaven, and Joachim lived under that cross for many years. He never ceased to implore God with tears, prayers and fasts, to remove it from him; but it seemed that he was not heard, which gave him great grief. He, however, never murmured against the Almighty, but, submitting to His will, continued his prayer. It is also believed, that he and his spouse made a vow, that if they were blessed with a child, they would consecrate it to His service. 

St. Epiphanius relates that, one day, while St. Joachim was praying, an angel appeared to him and assured him that God had heard his prayer, and that a daughter should be given him, who would become the Mother of the promised Messiah. The angel informed him also of the name which God had destined for her. The joy, which filled St. Joachim when he heard this message, is beyond all description. He went immediately to tell his spouse of it, who, according to some authors, had received the same revelation. Both gave fervent thanks to the Almighty, and praised His mercy. The angel’s prophecy was fulfilled, and St. Anna gave birth to a daughter, who was born free from the stain of original sin, full of the Holy Ghost, blessed above all women, and destined by Heaven to be the Mother of the only-begotten Son of God. St. Joachim, renewing his thanks to the Almighty, redoubled his zeal in His service. 

As soon as the time had come which the law prescribed, St. Joachim and his holy spouse carried their newborn child into the temple and offered her with great devotion to God, redeemed it again according to the custom, and returned with it to their home. Three years they kept their daughter with them, after which they brought the tender child, who was, however, gifted with the full use of mind, into the temple of Jerusalem, and having consecrated her, with the usual ceremonies, to the service of the Almighty, gave her in charge of the priests for education and instruction. In this manner St. Joachim fulfilled his vow and showed how truly he loved God. For although his love for his daughter, no doubt, surpassed the love of most parents for their children, yet he deprived himself of that which was most dear to him on earth, and consecrated it to the Most High. It cannot be doubted that God recompensed his self-sacrificing love with great graces and favors. After having made this sacrifice to the Almighty, Joachim and Anna lived for many years in great sanctity. 

It is believed that St. Joachim expired in the eightieth year of his age; but proofs of this are wanting. His death, however, whenever it may have pleased the Almighty to call him, must have been precious in the sight of God, as so holy a life had preceded it. It is also certain that the glory of St. Joachim in Heaven and his intercession with God are proportioned to his merit and dignity in having been chosen to be the father of the Mother of God, and therefore, the grandfather of Jesus Christ. They who, in need and sorrow, invoke him with confidence, will surely find that he is ever ready to carry the petitions of the faithful to the throne of the Most High. (2)

Saint Joachim

Adapted from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger

From time immemorial the Greeks have celebrated the Feast of St. Joachim on the day following Our Lady’s Nativity. The Maronites kept it on the day after the Presentation in November, and the Armenians on the Tuesday after the Octave of the Assumption of the Mother of God. The Latin Church at first did not keep his Feast. Later on it was admitted and celebrated sometimes on the day after the Octave of Our Lady’s Nativity, September 16, sometimes on the day following the Immaculate Conception, December 9. Thus both East and West agreed in associating St. Joachim with his illustrious Daughter when they wished to do him honor.

About the year 1510, Pope Julius II placed the Feast of the Grandfather of the Messias upon the Roman Calendar with the rank of double major; and remembering that family, in which the ties of nature and of grace were in such perfect harmony, he fixed the solemnity on March 20, the day after that of his Son-in-law, St. Joseph. The life of the glorious Patriarch resembled those of the first fathers of the Hebrew people; and it seemed as though he were destined to imitate their wanderings also, by continually changing his place upon the liturgical cycle.

Hardly 50 years after the Pontificate of Julius II the critical spirit of the day (the Protestant revolution) cast doubts upon the history of St. Joachim, and his name was erased from the Roman breviary. Pope Gregory XV, however, re-established his Feast in 1622 as a double, and the Church has since continued to celebrate it. Devotion to Our Lady’s Father continuing to increase very much, the Holy See was petitioned to make his Feast a holyday of obligation, as it had already made that of his Spouse, St. Anne. In order to satisfy the devotion of the people without increasing the number of days of obligation, Pope Clement XII in 1738 transferred the Feast of St. Joachim to the Sunday after the Assumption of his Daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and restored to it the rank of double major.

On August 1, 1879, the Sovereign Pontiff Leo XIII, who received the name of Joachim in Baptism, raised both the Feast of his glorious Patron and that of St. Anne to the rank of double of the second class.

The following is an extract from the decree Urbi et Orbi, announcing this decision with regard to the said Feasts: “Ecclesiasticus teaches us that we ought to praise our fathers in their generation; what great honor and veneration ought we then to render to St. Joachim and St. Anne, who begot the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and are on that account more glorious than all others.”

“By your fruits are you known,” says St. John Damascene; “you have given birth to a Daughter who is far greater than the angels and Who has become their glorious Queen.” Now since, through the Divine Mercy, in our unhappy times the honor and devotion paid to the Blessed Virgin requires an increase in proportion to the increasing needs of the true Catholic people, it is only right that the glory which surrounds their Blessed Daughter should redound upon Her happy parents. May this increase of devotion towards them cause the Church to experience still more their powerful protection.

It may be wondered why the Gospel for the Mass of this Feast is that of St. Matthew’s genealogy of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in which no mention is made of St. Joachim. The Gospel ends with the words: …and Jacob begot Joseph, the spouse of Mary, of whom was born Jesus; Who is called Christ. “Rejoice, O Joachim, for of thy Daughter a Son is born to us,” exclaims St. John Damascene. It is in this spirit the Church reads to us today the list of the royal ancestors of Our Savior. St. Joseph, the descendant of these illustrious princes, inherited their rights and passed them on to Jesus, Who was his Son according to the Jewish law, though according to nature He was of the line of His Virgin Mother alone.

St. Luke, Mary’s Evangelist, has preserved the names of the direct ancestors of the Mother of the Man-God, springing from David in the person of Nathan, Solomon’s brother. St. Joseph, the son of Jacob, according to St. Matthew, appears in St. Luke as son of Heli. The reason is, that by espousing Mary, Who was the only Daughter of Heli or Heliachim, that is Joachim, St. Joseph became legally St. Joachim’s son and heir.

This is the generally accepted explanation of the two genealogies of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not surprising that Rome, the royal city who has become the Bride of the Son of Man in the place of the repudiated Sion, prefers to use in Her liturgy the genealogy which by its long line of royal ancestors emphasizes the Kingship of the Spouse over Jerusalem. The name of Joachim, which signifies “the preparation of the Lord,” is thus rendered more majestic, without losing aught of its mystical meaning. He is himself crowned with wonderful glory. Jesus, his Grandson, gives him a share in His own authority over every creature. (1)

Image: The Annunciation to Joachim (7)

Research by REGINA Staff


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