World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly Date in the current year: July 24, 2022

World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly is observed annually on the fourth Sunday of July. It was instituted by Pope Francis in 2021.

Pope Francis chose the date of the observance on purpose, close to the liturgical feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, celebrated on July 26. Joachim and Anne were the parents of the Virgin Mary and the grandparents of Jesus Christ. They are not mentioned in the Bible; the story of their lives and the miraculous birth of their daughter is told in apocryphal works, such as the Gospel of James, the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, and the Golden Legend.

According to apocryphal tradition, Joachim and Anna were married for several decades but had no children. One day, the High Priest rejected Joachim’s sacrifice at the temple, as he interpreted the couple’s childlessness as a sign of divine displeasure.

Joachim withdrew to the desert, where he saw an angel after 40 days of fasting. The angel promised him a child; back in Jerusalem, Anne had a similar vision. Joachim returned to Jerusalem and embraced Anne at the Golden Gate; their meeting has come to represent the conception of Mary. In nine months, Anne bore a daughter, who would grow up to become the mother of Jesus Christ.

According to Pope Francis’s message, he created World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly in order to remind people that old age is a gift and that grandparents pass on their life experience and faith to young people, serving as a link between different generations.

Pope Francis also stressed that young people these days often forget about their grandparents, losing touch with their roots, and the elderly are left alone. World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly aims to prevent this by encouraging grandchildren to talk to their grandparents more often and to support their elderly relatives.

The inaugural World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly was celebrated on July 25, 2021 with a Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica presided over by Pope Francis. Additionally, special events were hosted by dioceses around the world.

The theme of the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly was “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). These are the words that Christ said to his disciples after his resurrection and before his ascension to heaven, and these are the world that Pope Francis addressed to the elderly on the first World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, promising them that the church would always support them even in the toughest times.

Finally, “I am with you always” is also the promise that grandparents and their grandchildren can make to each other. Young people will promise not to forget about their grandparents and talk to them more often, and grandparents will pass on their life experience and faith in return.

In addition to World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, a lot of countries have similar national celebrations. There are also two UN observances dedicated to elderly people: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15) and International Day of Older Persons (October 1).

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International Observances

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World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, international observances, Saints Joachim and Anne, Pope Francis