I have a friend who consistently calls me Ann. Now, Ann is my middle name, as it was common in my generation to use the name of Mary's mother as a second name.
In school, I knew Deborah Anns, Mary Anns, Margaret Anns, Patrica Anns, and so on.
The fact that this friend insists on calling me Ann has caused me to pray for two of my ancestors called Ann, and to wonder at the meaning of the name.
Ann is from Hannah, the ancient Hebrew name meaning favored or grace. I can identify with Hannah, as I did not have a child until very late in life, and was told I would never conceive by a doctor. Therefore, I can understand the intensity of the prayer of Hannah, which I copy here from 1 Samuel 2. Like Hannah, I gave my son to the Lord. Hannah's prayer is like an Old Testament Magnificat.
That Mary's mother was graced, was favored to bear the Immaculate Conception is, without a doubt, a mystery of our faith. Can you imagine having a perfect child? A mother would become holy having such a child, watching her, learning from her. And, St. Ann is frequently depicted as teaching Mary the Scriptures. As a home-schooling mum, I can identify with her in that respect as well.
Ann, the grandmother of Jesus, seems not to have been around at the Birth of Christ. She may have died by that point, or was too old and ill to travel with Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. She is not mentioned in Scripture. We are told that Mary's birth happened after years of barrenness, and that Joachim went on a desert retreat to pray for a child. Mary was conceived because of prayer and God's Divine Providence from all eternity. Anne's unusual late pregnancy is celebrated in art, with Anna meeting Joachim at the Golden Gate of Jerusalem, a symbol that Mary is the Gate to Heaven. She is the Gate to the New Jerusalem, the Church.
I had a friend whose birthday was on the feast of Joachim and Anna. These holy parents sometimes are forgotten by modern Catholics. I have lost track of that friend, but I pray for him almost daily. To be born on the feast of Joachim and Anna is a great blessing.
There are many famous Anns or Annes, named after the grandmother of Jesus, including Anne Line, martyr. Anne was a popular name in Tudor and Elizabethan times.
Why my friend insists on calling me Ann is a mystery to me, but I let her do so. Being called "favored" or "grace" is not such a bad thing.