- Saint Anne
Roman Catholic Church; Orthodox Church; Anglicanism; Eastern Catholic Churches
caption=St. Anne, fresco from
Faras, 7th century
titles=Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary
attributes=Book, door, with Mary, Jesus, or Joachim
patronage=carpenters; childless people; equestrians;
grandparents; homemakers/housewives; lacemakers; lost articles; miners; mothers; moving house; old-clothes dealers; poverty; pregnancy; seamstresses; stablemen; sterility; turners.
Saint Anne (also Ann or Anna), of David's house and line, was the mother of the
Virgin Mary, according to Christian tradition. Her name Anne is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew name Hannah. Mary's mother is not named in the canonical Gospels. According to the apocryphal Gospel of James, Anne and her husband Joachim, after years of childlessness, were visited by an angelwho told them that they would conceive a child. Anne promised to dedicate the child to God's service. Joachim and Anne are believed to have given Mary to the service of the Second Templewhen the girl was three years old. [ Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend, Volume II, Chapter 131] Anne is the patron saintof Quebec, Brittany, women in labor, and miners.
The story bears a superficial similarity to that of the birth of Samuel, whose mother Hannah had also been childless. Although Anne's cult receives little attention in the Western church prior to the late
12th century, [Virginia Nixon, "Mary's Mother: Saint Anne in Late Medieval Europe" (University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press), 12-14.] dedications to Anne in the Eastern church occur as early as the 6th century. [Procopius' Buildings, Volume I, Chapter 11-12] In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Anne is ascribed the title "Forbear of God", and both the Birth of Mary and the Dedication of Mary to the Temple are celebrated as two of the Twelve Great Feasts.
iconography, Anne may be recognised by her depiction in redrobe and greenmantle, often holding a book. Images may also be found depicting Anne holding a small Mary who in turn holds an infant Christ (see gallery). Such trinitarian representations mirror similar depictions of the Trinity, and were sometimes produced as pairs. [ [http://www.catholicherald.com/articles/01articles/mothers0510.htm Catholic Herald article] , [http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
] , [http://www.crisismagazine.com/december2001/feature1.htm Article on pregnancy images] ]
Varying theologians have believed either that Joachim was Anne's only husband, or that she was married thrice. Ancient belief, attested to by a sermon of St John Damascene, was that Anne married once. In late medieval times, legend held that Anne was married three times, first to Joachim, then to
Clopas, and finally to a man named Solomas, and that each marriage produced one daughter: Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Salomae, respectively. [Golden Legend II.131]
Similarly, in the
4th century, and then much later in the 15th century, a belief arose that Mary was born of Anne by virgin birth. [ Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913 - see external links] Those believers included the 16th centurymystic Valentine Weigelwho claimed Anne conceived Mary by the power of the Holy spirit. This belief was also condemned as an error by the Catholic Church in 1677. Instead, the Church teaches that Mary was conceived in the normal fashion, but that she was miraculously preserved from original sinin order to make her fit to bear Christ. The conception of Mary free from original sin is termed the Immaculate Conception-- which is frequently confused with the Virgin Birthor Incarnationof Christ.
The iconographic subject of Joachim and Anne "The Meeting at the Golden Gate" fitted both views, and was a regular component of artistic cycles of the "
Life of the Virgin". The couple meet at the "Golden Gate" of Jerusalemand embrace. They are aware of Anne's pregnancy, of which they have been separately informed by an archangel. For those believing in the virgin birth of Mary, this moment stood for her conception, and the feast was celebrated on the same day as the Immaculate Conception. The Birth of Mary, the Presentation of Maryand the Marriage of the Virginwere usual components of cycles of the Life of the Virgin in which Anne is normally shown.
Anne is never shown as present at the Nativity of Christ, but is frequently shown with the infant Christ in various subjects. She is normally shown as present at the
Presentation of Jesus at the Templeand the Circumcision of Christ. There was a tradition that she went (separately) to Egypt and rejoined the Holy Familyafter their Flight to Egypt. Anne is not seen with the adult Christ, so was regarded as having died during the youth of Jesus. [ Some writers gave her age at death, as part of a general family chronology, but no generally accepted tradition developed on this point, even during the Middle Ages.] Anne is also shown as the matriarch of the Holy Kinship, the extended family of Jesus, a popular subject in late medieval Germany. In modern devotions, Anne and her husband are used as protection for the unborn.
The feast day of Anne is 26 July (Western calendar) and 25 July (Eastern calendar).
Saint Anne is patron of the following places:
Canada; France; Brittany; Quebec; Adjuntas, Puerto Rico; Detroit, Michigan; Norwich, Connecticut; Santa Ana Pueblo; Woodplumpton; Seama, New Mexico; Taos, New Mexico; Marsaskala; Tudela, Navarre; and the Philippines.
* [http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/sainta03.htm Patron Saints Index]
* [http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/saint.asp?id=1544 Brief American Catholic article on "Sts. Joachim and Ann"]
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