26 July: Feast Day of Saints Anne and Joachim. Saints Anne and Joachim are honored by the church as the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the grandparents of Jesus. Not much is known about these special grandparents; what we do know about them comes through tradition. We believe that they were respected members of the Jewish community, and that they wanted to become parents so much that Joachim went into the desert to fast and pray for this intention. An angel told them they would soon have a daughter who would become famous throughout the world. Months later, Mary was born. When she was three years old, Anne and Joachim took her to the temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her for service to the Lord. This is celebrated in the church as the “Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” We know little else about the lives of Mary’s parents, but considering the person of Mary, they must have been two very remarkable people to have been given such a daughter and to have played so important a part in the work of the Redemption. Thus, we honor Mary’s parents as saints who brought Mary up to be the most worthy Mother of God. It was Anne and Joachim who taught Mary to have faith in God and who showed Mary the example of godly parenting. Anne and Joachim’s love for one another and for Mary is an example of how God calls us to live. Today, the church honors the grandparents of Jesus. This is the perfect reminder for us to honor our own parents and grandparents and to thank them for the blessings they have passed down to us. Saint Anne is the patron of childless couples, mothers, grandmothers, grandparents, homemakers, pregnancy, women in labor, and others. Saint Joachim is the patron saint of fathers, grandfathers, and grandparents.

2021 World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly – Papal Decree on the Granting of Indulgence:
The Apostolic Penitentiary, in order to increase the devotion of the faithful and for the salvation of souls, by virtue of the faculties attributed to it by the Supreme Pontiff Pope Francis by Divine Providence on the occasion of the First World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, recently instituted by the Supreme Pontiff on the fourth Sunday of the month of July, graciously grants the Plenary Indulgence, under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff) to grandparents, the elderly and all the faithful who, motivated by a true spirit of penance and charity, will participate on 25 July 2021, on the occasion of the First World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, in the solemn celebration that the Most Holy Father Francis will preside over in the Vatican Papal Basilica or at the various functions that will be held throughout the world, who may also apply it as suffrage for the souls in Purgatory. This Court of Mercy also grants the Plenary Indulgence on this same day to the faithful who devote adequate time to actually or virtually visiting their elderly brothers and sisters in need or in difficulty (such as the sick, the abandoned, the disabled and other similar cases). See the full Decree here

Ideas for celebrating this feast day:

  • If possible, invite grandparents over for dinner. Or, drop off a meal or give them a phone call.
  • Send a card in the mail thanking all the grandparents in your life.
  • Check in on an elderly neighbor or friend and see if they are in need of any help: pick up groceries, drop off a meal, fix something in their home, lend a listening ear, etc.
  • Most importantly, to pray for the grandparents in your life and those who have no one to pray for them. Don’t forget to pray for the souls of the parents and grandparents who have gone before us.
  • Saints Joachim and Anne coloring page available here.
  • At POP: on Sunday 25 July at all Masses (including the Saturday Vigil), grandparents will receive a special blessing. Kids can color a special card after the 10a Sunday Mass to give to grandparents!

(Sources: The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens; CatholicCulture.org)