Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin


The Hebrew word Anne signifies gracious. Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, the parents of the blessed Virgin Mary, are justly honoured in the church, and their virtue is highly extolled by Saint John Damascen. The emperor Justinian I. built a church at Constantinople in honour of Saint Anne, about the year 550. Codinus mentions another built by Justinian II in 705. Her body was brought from Palestine to Constantinople in 710, whence some portions of her relics have been dispersed in the West. F. Cuper the Bollandist has collected a great number of miracles wrought through her intercession.

God has been pleased by sensible effects to testify how much he is honoured by the devotion of the faithful to this saint, who was the great model of virtue to all engaged in the married state, and charged with the education of children. It was a sublime dignity and a great honour for this saint to give to a lost world the advocate of mercy, and to be parent of the mother of God. But it was a far greater happiness to be, under God, the greatest instrument of her virtue, and to be spiritually her mother by a holy education in perfect innocence and sanctity. Saint Anne being herself a vessel of grace, not by name only, but by the possession of that rich treasure, was chosen by God to form his most beloved spouse to perfect virtue; and her pious care of this illustrious daughter was the greatest means of her own sanctification and her glory in the church of God to the end of ages. It is a lesson to all parents whose principal duty is the holy education of their children. By this they glorify their Creator, perpetuate his honour on earth to future ages, and sanctify their own souls. Saint Paul says, that it is by the education of their children that parents are to be saved. Nor will he allow any one who has had children, ever to be admitted to serve the altar, whose sons do not, by their holy conduct, give proofs of a virtuous education. Nevertheless, we see parents solicitous about the corporal qualifications of their children, and earnest to procure them an establishment in the world; yet supinely careless in purchasing them virtue, in which alone their true happiness consists. This reflection drew tears from Crates, a heathen philosopher, who desired to mount on the highest place in his city and cry out with all his strength: “Citizens, what is it you think of? You employ all your time in heaping up riches to leave to your children; yet take no care to cultivate their souls with virtue, as if an estate were more precious than themselves.”

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 2 July 2014. Web. 5 August 2020. <>