As a nod to the Catholic heritage and culture of southeast Michigan, I went poking around the lists of officially recognized saints about two years ago to come up with a list of possible Catholic saints for a recession.

The themes I went looking for included families, job seekers, poverty and homeless people.

But when I built that list, I overlooked the patron saints of homemakers / housewives. This was an error on my part because many homemakers have gone to great efforts to take care of their families during the recession.

Keep in mind that I don’t narrowly define homemaker as stay-at-home moms who care for small children. Many of those who are homemakers also work outside the home or run a small business, or have older / extended family members to care for or entertain. I’m not the only one with a generous interpretation of “homemaker”: the Monroe County (Mich.) Homemaker of the Year contest also is open to those who work outside the home.

Today’s couponers who have learned how to keep their family’s grocery bill down while still feeding the family, and often others along the way, are excelling in two long-respected skills of homemaking: thrift and charity.

A couple of years ago, it was discovered by church officials in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit that the diocese never had a patron saint officially appointed. There’s a process to doing that, just as a state government goes through the process to name its its official flower, official bird, etc.

After review and discussion, the conclusion was to recognize the person that many of the Catholics in the region already considered to be the area’s saint: St. Anne, the grandmother of Jesus, and the namesake of the first Catholic church in Detroit.

I’m seeing headlines in the Michigan news media this morning, but here’s the formal announcement at the Archdiocese office. This photo is of the official icon adopted by the archdiocese and is a downloadable jpg at its web site.

Now, what does Anne have in common with today’s Michigan couponers?

Answer: she is one of the saints who are recognized as patron saint of homemakers.

Why? I’m not entirely sure. It seems to be one of those traditions whose origins have been lost over time. The story that is related most frequently these days is of how much the devout Anne wanted to be a mother, and she finally conceived a girl whom we know as Mary.

Another saint who has been designated as the patron for homemakers is one whose hospitality was documented in the Bible: Martha of Bethany. Do remember that Anne’s story is found in other early Christian sources, not the Scriptures that became the Christian Bible. Therefore, I would not argue with any homemaker who looks to Martha instead of Anne as her example.

But if you want the Michigan angle, yes, St. Anne is a perfect choice!

St. Anne’s feast day is July 26.

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