Jersualem: the Church of Saint Anne
The Blessed Virgin Mary is revered for her holiness, her willingness to accept the will of God and her obedience. No where in the Bible, however, does it mention the name of her parents. Regardless it was assumed that such a woman as Mary would have had parents who instilled in her the virtues she possessed to be the mother of God.
Tradition, passed down over many years, tells us that her parents were named Joachim and Anne, and that they were childless after many years of marriage. Such a situation was taken to be a curse in those days. Then an angel appeared to Anne and announced that she and Joachim would have a child. In thanksgiving, Anne promised to dedicate this child to God.
We celebrate the Feast of Saints Anne and Joachim on July 26.
As you enter the Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem, one of the first things that you will see is the Pool of Bethesda and as you walk a bit further at the start of the Via Dolorosa (way of the Cross) you will find the Church of Saint Anne. The church was built in the early 12th Century over a spot that the Crusaders believed was the birthplace of Saint Anne.
Once the Muslim rulers took over in the late 12th Century, they did not destroy it as they did many other churches, but rather converted it into a seminary. It later fell into decay, but miraculously was never destroyed and was restored in the 19th Century.
Today it actually belongs to the French government (given to France as a gift from the Ottoman government in appreciation for France’s support during the Crimean War).
The Church is administered by the “White Fathers”, so called for the color of their robes. The church is architecturally beautiful and a quiet respite from the noise outside as pilgrims begin their Way of the Cross processions.
And, the acoustics are outstanding, so if you get there when a choir is singing or if you have singers in your group you are in for a real treat.
There is no official website for the church itself.