When the time had arrived for God to grant the favor besought by the holy spouses Joachim and Anne, their prayers, their fasting, their sighs and, more especially, their love of God and zeal for His glory, were presented to His divine Majesty, weighed in the balance of divine justice and judged to be somewhat in proportion with the favor they had so long been imploring. I say: somewhat in proportion, for, strictly speaking, even had all men, from Adam downwards, been as perfect as our two Saints, had they passed their whole lives in incessant prayer, and shed sufficient tears to fill the ocean-bed, it would have been but little in comparison with seeing the birth of the Mother of the Redeemer. Happily, our Savior desired this birth still more ardently than did the holy spouses, and He was pleased, so to speak, with the gentle violence done Him by their prayers. At length the supreme Creator bestowed on Joachim and Anne the same benediction as He had formerly bestowed on Abraham, which he had successively handed down to Isaac, to Jacob, to David; and the Queen of the universe, the Mother of the Desired of nations was conceived.
As a daughter of Abraham, according to nature, she would have to suffer the sad consequences of original disobedience, to be marked with that stain which was common to all our race, and, if only for an instant, bear the shameful bondage of Satan and the weight of the divine anger. But such stain and bondage could but be eminently repugnant to the Majesty of the Father Who had from all eternity elected her to be His eldest Daughter; to the holiness of the Son, who was to take human flesh from her and already looked on her as His Mother; to the goodness of the Holy Ghost Who having chosen her from among all creatures to be preeminently His Spouse, owed it to Himself to endow her in a manner worthy of Him.
Therefore any birth-stain must not exist, the Daughter of Joachim and Anne must be immaculate, all pure, all beautiful and full of grace from the first moment of her existence. What glory for these Saints to have engendered such a privileged creature! What glory to have contributed by their prayers, their desires, their good works, to the construction of a temple worthy of the holiness of the Most High! What a strict union had they thus contracted with the three Divine Persons of the adorable Trinity! What a sacred right had they acquired to the gratitude of the whole human race! What admiration and veneration have not the holy Angels for St. Anne! How terrible has she not become to the powers of Hell! She is like a lighted censer shedding a balmy odor wherever she passes; like a coffer of precious wood where lie the crown and jewels of a great monarch; like a golden casket enclosing the titles of nobility of some great but fallen family, destined to rise from its diminished state and be elevated to a hitherto unknown height of glory and prosperity! For, by giving us Mary, the Lord bound Himself to give-us JESUS. And JESUS means the deliverance, the elevation of men to the sublime dignity of children of the Heavenly Father and fellow-citizens of the Angels; the coming of JESUS means the promise of so glorious, so dazzling a future, that, in her transports of joy, the Church does not hesitate to proclaim that fault happy which won for us the being raised from our fall by so great a Redeemer.
The following event which took place in 1768 was attested by the parish-priest of Deschambault, by Monsieur de la Gorgediere, the lord of the parish, and by many other witnesses.
In the month of November 1767, Marie Josephte Arnaud, wife of Honore Lavoie of Deschambault, had been attacked by so violent a pain in both her legs that she at once became incapable of walking. Her legs swelled in so extraordinary a manner that she frequently could not stop in bed, but would lie on the floor. Her state became so precarious that in the following January she received the last Sacraments, Dr. Dubarry believing her to be near death. One leg was enormously swollen and her sufferings were terrible. The doctor punctured her leg and desired the operation to be renewed from time to time. A quantity of water came from the incisions, but, on the swelling diminishing, it was found that the muscles of her leg were so contracted that she could neither put her foot to the ground nor even sit down.
As her pain went on increasing, and her other leg began to be attacked, she resolved to make a pilgrimage to St. Anne’s. On arriving there, she was carried into the church by her husband and placed on a bench, whence she could not move even by the aid of crutches. After having made her confession and prayed for half-an-hour, her husband carried her back into her carriage and took her to a neighboring house to pass the night.
The next morning, her husband took her back to church where Mass was said for her intention. The time for Holy Communion having arrived, she felt somewhat easier and, aided by her crutches, managed to drag her self to the Holy Table, whence she afterwards returned to her seat in the same painful manner.
After Mass she venerated the relics of St. Anne and requested that the gospel of St. Anne might be read over her. She remained praying before the altar for half-an-hour and then was taking up her crutches to drag her self away when, to her great astonishment, she found she had no further need of them. Standing upright she began to walk with a firm and steady step, as well as she had ever done in her life. In order to make sure of the miracle she, at the request of her parish priest, walked to the end of the church and back, and afterwards she walked to the presbytery and back again to the church to resume her thanksgiving.
On her return to Deschambault, the whole parish assembled in the church and sang a Te Deum, in thanksgiving.
My beloved protectors, Joachim and Anne, like the holy patriarch Noah, you reconciled the world with God in a time of anger. The human race was plunging deeper and deeper into a deluge of iniquity and heaping on its own head the clouds of divine anger and malediction; your prayers, your good works, your penance appeased the wrath of God; and, in token of peace, He sent you Mary, that chaste dove, bearing to earth, not an olive-branch but salvation and abundant redemption. And in the same way as, when rejoiced by the odor of Noah’s sacrifice, God made a covenant with him, giving him the rainbow as a sign; so did He, when rejoiced by the odor of your virtues, hasten the hour of the new and eternal covenant promised by the prophets; giving you Mary, the ever-blessed Virgin, as a pledge of that covenant, after sending whom He could not refuse to give us JESUS. After such striking proofs of your power with God, can I hesitate in trusting you? To you I commend the care of my salvation: intercede for me, reconcile me with my Judge, JESUS, Who vouchsafed to take human flesh from your august Daughter; obtain for me repentance and the pardon of my sins, as well as the graces of which I stand in need that I may grow in holiness.
St. Joachim and St. Anne, obtain for me by your prayers that I may attain to that degree of perfection which God requires of me.
Pious readers, without doubt you love JESUS and Mary. Would you grow in that love and render yourselves most agreeable to them? Then love and revere St. Joachim and St. Anne, and make them known to others.