Besides the relations, friends and neighbors who thronged to offer their congratulations on the occasion of Mary’s birth, the house of Joachim and Anne was visited by a numerous cohort of invisible beings. First there were legions of Angels from all the choirs, attracted by the splendor which shone forth from the lovely soul of the blessed Child and by the divine odor of the graces with which she was filled, and which inspired her to make acts of sublime virtue. Spiritual things are as open to the gaze of Angels as corporeal things are to ours; and even as the angels of darkness are attracted by the foul odors that emanate, as it were, from the sins of pride, of hatred, of lying, of impurity, so are the Angels of light attracted by the sweet perfume of the violet of humility, the lily of chastity, the rose of charity. Perceiving that the Daughter of Anne had been preserved from original sin and its consequences, they foresaw her noble destiny. What specially attracted them was the burning furnace of divine love which was kindled in her heart and of which they would have been jealous had not they themselves been so filled with charity towards God and towards fallen man, that they rejoiced at whatever could procure glory to their Lord or the redemption of poor human kind.
Did these happy spirits make themselves visibly manifest to Mary’s parents? It cannot br said; yet it cannot be doubted but that these latter experienced the happy effects of so holy a companionship. Every pious soul has remarked that while in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament a certain indefinable well-being is experienced, a peace, a sweet joy, a something indescribable which is never felt elsewhere. In the world, in the domestic circle a more keenly perceptible joy may sometimes be experienced, but this joy only affects the soul superficially, whilst the joy felt at the foot of the altar penetrates the whole being like oil poured upon a garment. Whence comes this joy? Doubtless the real presence of Our Lord is the principal cause, but it also arises from the presence of the Angels, who, according to St. Chrysostom, are always flocking in great numbers around the tabernacle. The salutary effects of their presence makes itself felt by each person in proportion with the purity of his conscience and the amount of divine love that reigns in his heart amidst these Angels. Joachim and Anne, who were so pure, so detached from earth, so loving, were like grains of incense amid burning coals: they, as it were, exhaled a fragrance similar to that which floats of an evening above an incensed altar.
But this was not all: the house of Anne was visited by far nobler beings than the Angels, Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, even by the three adorable Persons of the Eternal Trinity, who took delight in the heart of the infant Mary, which was a worthy sanctuary of their own holiness.
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost took up their abode in this heart and dwelt there, not only because therein was their delight, but also that they might vie with one another in bestowing their choicest gifts on the happy Child and thus render her more and more worthy of her high destiny. For God, who is infinite activity in perfect repose, is nowhere idle: in Heaven he is guiding the stars in their orbits; on earth, he is causing our harvests to spring up and ripen; and in the hearts of the just he is constantly performing a work worthy of him, viz. the sanctification of each particular soul. But we also believe that whilst preparing in Mary a dwelling fitted for the reception of that Majesty that would deign to become Flesh within her womb, God bestowed most bountiful gifts on the father and mother of His well-beloved. By means of prayers and fasts, the first Anne had obtained a son who became the prophet Samuel, and having consecrated him to God, the high-priest Heli blessed her and desired of God that He would send her other children as a recompense for the offering she had made to God of her first born. And these desires were granted. We may therefore well believe that the august Trinity took delight in bestowing graces on the two holy spouses who, by their prayers and good works, had merited the happiness of having a Child in whom the Father found so perfect a Daughter, the Holy Ghost so accomplished a Spouse, and whom the Son already looked on as His Mother.
Anne Franchet, Viscountess of Tonqueduc had for a long time been suffering from very severe intermittent fever, the attacks of which occurred with little or no intermission. She also took a severe cold accompanied by a most painful sore throat. When the illness first attacked her, she proposed making a pilgrimage, and, on finding that she was growing worse, she became still more eager to accomplish her vow, being persuaded that St. Anne would relieve her. Her husband could not refuse complying with her wishes and took her himself to the shrine. The sick woman s faith met at first with a severe trial; for, having satisfied her devotion at great length, and the hour of departure having arrived, instead of feeling any relief, her sufferings had increased. The pilgrims entered their carriage therefore with heavy hearts, since St. Anne had not seen fit to listen to their ardent prayers. On arriving at Meriadec, on the road to Vannes, the viscountess remembered that she had omitted drinking any of the water of the fountain, and wished to repair her negligence. The carriage was stopped and a footman sent back for some in all haste. On his return, in spite of her being at the moment in the greatest state of suffering from an access of her fever, she would not delay drinking the St. Anne’s water. Hardly had she put it to her lips when the fever left her as if by enchantment. The Viscount who had recently been converted from Calvinism was so struck by this miracle and so rejoiced at it, that he immediately had an official report of it drawn up.
He who has Mary has all. For where Mary is there will JESUS hasten, accompanied by the heavenly Father, the author of every good and perfect gift, and the Holy Ghost. Who is the giver of grace. As for the Angels of light, they watch over those whom their Queen loves. How happy should I be, then, if I could draw down on myself the loving regards of that Mother of Mercy! My powerful protectors, Joachim and Anne, this is my most ardent wish and you can obtain it for me. Say one word in my favor to your beloved Daughter; tell Mary that I would rather be the least of her servants than command the whole world; beg of her not to reject me because of my unworthiness. Thus you will have saved a soul, and what could be more worthy of the father and mother of Her through whom salvation has come to us?
Glorious parents of Mary, obtain me the grace of loving her tenderly and constantly.
Follow St. Alphonsus advice and invoke the intercession of the St. Joachim and St. Anne in order to obtain a tender and constant love for Mary.