For families: A novena to Saint Anne

Celibacy, marriage, infertility then motherhood, separation, widowhood, Saint Anne went through it all. As a grandmother, she takes care of her grandchildren and leads us to Jesus.


Saint Anne, whose name means "Grace" in Hebrew, is Virgin Mary's mother and Jesus' grandmother, which makes her our grandmother in Heaven. She knew celibacy, marriage, infertility then motherhood, separation,  and widowhood.  No wonder then that she became the expert Saint on family matters! She is the saint patroness of unmarried women, housewives, women in labor or who want to be pregnant, grandmothers, educators, and teachers. Saint Anne is also said to be a patron saint of sailors and a protector from storms, hence her strong presence in Brittany, which will be discussed later. 

During this novena, we will ask Anne for graces for our families and ourselves, while learning to give thanks and appreciate the familial graces already bestowed on us. It will also be a tremendous opportunity to pray for each other, in a spirit of solidarity.

Content of the novena: every day, you'll receive:

  •  An extract of the word of God
  •  A short meditation from the life of St. Anne, in relation with the story of St. Anne d'Auray
  •  A text from the official teachings of the Church 
  •  A daily prayer, short or long version. 

The intentions of the novena

Day 1: For the unmarried men and women

Day 2: For the engaged couples

Day 3: For couples experience infertility

Day 4: For couples experiencing conjugal difficulties

Day 5: For pregnant women and their unborn child

Day 6: For fathers, mothers, foster parents, guardians

Day 7: For children and youth

Day 8: For consecrated people

Day 9: For grandparents, widows, widowers, the elderly

How to live the novena?

This novena is based on solidarity. We are encouraged to look beyond our own needs and pray for a family member, a friend, a co-worker, or a member of this prayer community. Let us consider each daily intention, take a moment to think about people we know in that specific category, and offer a prayer on their behalf. 

If you can, it is recommended to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and communion, ideally on July 26, on St. Anne Memorial day. You can visit the sanctuary of Saint Ann with that link 

And how about a pilgrimage? If you live in Brittany or nearby, why not participate in the Grand Pardon of St. Anne d'Auray? It's a beautiful spiritual experience!

If that's not the case, try to find a church or a chapel dedicated to St. Anne, or even a statue or a stained glass representing her. You may pray there and present your intentions, ideally on July 26th. 

If you're not French, you may wonder what a Pardon is. 

It is a penitential ceremony, which occurs on the feast or memorial day of the patron saint of a church or chapel, at which an indulgence is granted (pardon means forgiveness in French). It occurs only in Brittany, Western France. 

The faithful prepare for the Pardon by confessing their sins and reciting the rosary on their way to the church. A typical Pardon day starts with an early Mass, followed by a procession around the church. St. Anne d'Auray's procession is among the most important, and the most strikingly beautiful and passionate. 

The Pardon is followed by joyful social events such as village fairs.

Now that we know what a pardon is, let's introduce St. Anne d'Auray.

On July 25th, 1624, the eve of St. Anne's memorial, a White Lady appeared to a humble peasant by the name of Yves Nicolazic. Yves was a profoundly spiritual man, living a simple life, known to pray often, help others, and practice charity.

The lady in white led Yves home, shining light on the path with a torch she was carrying. She then spoke: "Yves Nicolazic, do not be afraid. I am Anne, mother of Mary. Tell your priest that in the piece of land called the Bocenno, there was once a chapel in my name. I want it to be rebuilt as soon as possible and that you take care of it because God desires that I be honored there".

Yves did as he was told, however, the priest did not believe in the alleged apparition. 

When Anne came back to visit Yves on the night of 7th to 8th of March 1625, she asked him to gather a few neighbors and "follow the torch." So they did, and in the Bocenno field, which belonged to Yves, they found an ancient wooden statue of St. Anne, quite distressed but still recognizable with traces of white and blue azure. 

Three days later, the first pilgrims arrived, to pray before the statue. They were followed by many, many more. In fact, the flow of pilgrims never stopped. 

Following the finding of the statue, Yves became "the Builder". He and his friends, aided by pilgrims, built a magnificent basilica, in the place that later took the name of St. Anne d'Auray. 

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Prayer from the novena

Prayer to Saint Ann

Holy Ann, we pray you, Be the watch Of faith in our hearts, Of grace in our souls, Of the solidity of our homes Of love in our family Of reconciliation in the Church Of peace in the world. Keep alive in us The virtue of hope. Saint Ann, Mary's mother and Jesus' grandmother, watch over us.