Saint Anne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigationJump to search

Angelos Akotanos - Saint Anne with the Virgin - 15th century.jpg
Greek icon of Saint Anne and Mary, by Angelos Akotantos
Mother of the Virgin, Maternal Heroine, Woman of Amram
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Eastern Catholic Churches
Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodox Church
Anglican Communion
Afro-American religion
Feast26 July (Roman Catholic),[1]
09 September (Eastern Orthodox)[2] 09 December (Orthodox) The Conception by St. Anne of the Most Holy Theotokos
AttributesBook; door; with Mary, Jesus or Joachim; woman dressed in red or green[3]
PatronageBrittany, Canada, Detroit, Taguig, Hagonoy, Bulacan, Kurunegalle Catholic Diocese, Sri Lanka; Fasnia (Tenerife); Mainar; carpenters; child care providers; childless people; children; equestrians; grandparents; homemakers/housewives; lace makers; lost articles; miners; mothers; moving house; old-clothes dealers; poverty; pregnancy; seamstresses; stablemen; sterility; teachers

According to apocryphal Christian and Islamic tradition, Saint Anne was the mother of Mary and the maternal grandmother of Jesus. Mary's mother is not named in the canonical gospels. In writing, Anne's name and that of her husband Joachim come only from New Testament apocrypha, of which the Gospel of James (written perhaps around 150) seems to be the earliest that mentions them. The mother of Mary is mentioned but not named in the Quran.

Church tradition[edit]

The story bears a similarity to that of the birth of Samuel, whose mother Hannah (Hebrew: חַנָּהḤannāh "favour, grace"; etymologically the same name as Anne) had also been childless. Although Anne receives little attention in the Latin Church prior to the late 12th century,[4]dedications to Anne in Eastern Christianity occur as early as the 6th century.[5] In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Anne is ascribed the title Ancestors of God,[6] and both the Nativity of Mary and the Presentation of Mary are celebrated as two of the twelve Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church. The Dormition of Anne is also a minor feast in Eastern Christianity. In Lutheran Protestantism, it is held that Martin Luther chose to enter religious life as an Augustinian friar after crying out to St. Anne while endangered by lightning.[7][8]

In Islam[edit]

Anne (Arabic: حنة‎, romanized: Ḥannah) is also revered in Islam, recognized as a highly spiritual woman and as the mother of Mary. She is not named in the Quran, where she is referred to as "The wife of Imran". The Qur'an describes her remaining childless until her old age. One day, Hannah saw a bird feeding its young while sitting in the shade of a tree, which awakened her desire to have children of her own. She prayed for a child and eventually conceived; her husband, Imran, died before the child was born. Expecting the child to be male, Hannah vowed to dedicate him to isolation and service in the Second Temple.[N 1][9][10]

However, Hannah bore a daughter instead, and named her Mary. Her words upon delivering Mary reflect her status as a great mystic, realising that while she had wanted a son, this daughter was God's gift to her:[9][10]

Then, when she brought forth she said: My Lord! Truly, I brought her forth, a female. And God is greater in knowledge of what she brought forth. And the male is not like the female. ... So her Lord received her with the very best acceptance. And her bringing forth caused the very best to develop in her.[Quran 3:36–37 (Translated by Laleh Bakhtiar)]


Saint Anne with Mary as a child

Although the canonical books of the New Testament never mention the mother of the Virgin Mary, traditions about her family, childhood, education, and eventual betrothal to Joseph developed very early in the history of the church. The oldest and most influential source for these is the apocryphal Gospel of James, first written in Koine Greek around the middle of the second century AD. In the West, the Gospel of James fell under a cloud in the fourth and fifth centuries when it was accused of "absurdities" by Jerome and condemned as untrustworthy by Pope Damasus I, Pope Innocent I, and Pope Gelasius I.[11]

Ancient belief, attested to by a sermon of John of Damascus, was that Anne married once. In the Late Middle Ages, 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 Salome, respectively.[12] The sister of Saint Anne was Sobe, mother of Elizabeth. In the fifteenth century, the Catholic cleric Johann Eck related in a sermon that St Anne's parents were named Stollanus and Emerentia. The Catholic Encyclopedia (1907) regards this genealogy as spurious.[13]

In the 4th century and then much later in the 15th century, a belief arose that Mary was conceived of Anne without original sin. This belief was, however, already implicitly present in the idea of Mary as the New Eve, present in the 2nd century writers St Justin Martyr, St Irenaeus and Tertullian, and arguably also in St Paul (1 Cor.11:12). This belief in the Immaculate Conception states that God preserved Mary's body and soul intact and sinless from her first moment of existence, through the merits of Jesus Christ.[13] The Immaculate Conception, often confused with the Annunciation of the Incarnation (Mary's virgin birth of Jesus), was made dogma in the Catholic church by Pope Pius IX's papal bull, Ineffabilis Deus, in 1854.


In the Eastern church, the cult of Anne herself may go back as far as c. 550, when Justinian built a church in Constantinople in her honor.[14]

The earliest pictorial sign of her veneration in the West is an 8th-century fresco in the church of Santa Maria Antiqua, Rome.[11]

Birth of St. Anne, by Adriaen van Overbeke (c. 1521–1525)

Virginia Nixon sees an economic incentive in the local promotion of the cult of St. Anne in order to attract pilgrims. The identification of Sepphoris as the birthplace of Mary may reflect competition with a similar site in Jerusalem.[15]A shrine at Douai, in northern France, was one of the early centers of devotion to St. Anne in the West.[16]

Two well-known shrines to St. Anne are that of Ste. Anne d'Auray in Brittany, France; and that of Ste. Anne de Beaupré near the city of Québec. The number of visitors to the Basilica of Ste. Anne de Beaupré is greatest on St Anne's Feast Day, 26 July, and the Sunday before Nativity of the Virgin Mary, 8 September. In 1892, Pope Leo XIII sent a relic of St Anne to the church.[17]

In the Maltese language, the Milky Way galaxy is called It-Triq ta' Sant'Anna, literally "The Way of St. Anne".[18]

In Imperial Russia, the Order of St Anne was one of the leading state decorations.

In the United States, the Daughters of the Holy Spirit named the former Annhurst College in her honor.[19]

A woman's attachment to and faith in a St. Anne medallion is the subject of The Chairman Dances' song "Saint Anne Medal", included on their EP Samantha Says (2015).[20]

Anne is remembered (with Joachim) in the Church of England with a Lesser Festival on 26 July.[21]


By the middle of the seventh century, a distinct feast day, the Conception of St. Anne (Maternity of Holy Anna) celebrating the conception of Mary by Saint Anne, was observed at the Monastery of Saint Sabas.[22] It is now known in the Greek Orthodox Church as the feast of "The Conception by St. Anne of the Most Holy Theotokos", and celebrated on 9 December.[23] In the Roman Catholic Church, the Feast of Saints Anne and Joachim is celebrated on 26 July.


The supposed relics of St. Anne were brought from the Holy Land to Constantinople in 710 and were kept there in the church of St. Sophia as late as 1333.[13]

During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, returning crusaders and pilgrims from the East brought relics of Anne to a number of churches, including most famously those at Apt, in Provence, Ghent, and Chartres.[11] St. Anne's relics have been preserved and venerated in the many cathedrals and monasteries dedicated to her name, for example in Austria, Canada,[24] Germany, Italy,[25] and Greece in Holy Mount and the city of Katerini.[26] Medieval and baroque craftsmanship is evidenced in, for example, the metalwork of the life-size reliquaries containing the bones of her forearm. Examples employing folk art techniques are also known.

Düren has been the main place of pilgrimage for Anne since 1506, when Pope Julius II decreed that her relics should be kept there.


The Church of Saint Anne in Beit Guvrin National Park was built by the Byzantines and the Crusaders in the 12th century, known in Arabic as Khirbet (lit. "ruin") Sandahanna, the mound of Maresha being called Tell Sandahanna.

Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Quebec, Canada

Saint Anne is patroness of unmarried women, housewives, women in labor or who want to be pregnant, grandmothers, mothers and educators. She is also a patroness of horseback riders, cabinet-makers[16] and miners. As the mother of Mary, this devotion to Saint Anne as the patron of miners arises from the medieval comparison between Mary and Christ and the precious metals silver and gold. Anne's womb was considered the source from which these precious metals were mined.[27] Saint Anne is also said to be a patron saint of sailors and a protector from storms.[17]

She is also the patron saint of: Brittany (France), Chinandega (Nicaragua), the Mi'kmaq people of Canada, Castelbuono (Sicily), Quebec (Canada), Santa Ana (California), Norwich (Connecticut), Detroit (Michigan),[28] Adjuntas (Puerto Rico), Santa Ana and Jucuarán (El Salvador), Berlin (New Hampshire), Santa Ana Pueblo, Seama, and Taos (New Mexico), Chiclana de la Frontera, Marsaskala, Tudela and Fasnia (Spain), Town of Sta Ana Province of Pampanga, Hagonoy, Santa Ana, Taguig City, Saint Anne Shrine, Malicboy, Pagbilao, Quezon and Malinao, Albay (Philippines), Santana (Brazil), Saint Anne (Illinois), Sainte Anne Island, Baie Sainte Anne and Praslin Island (Seychelles), Bukit Mertajam and Port Klang (Malaysia), Kľúčové (Slovakia) and South Vietnam. The parish church of Vatican City is Sant'Anna dei Palafrenieri. There is a shrine dedicated to Saint Anne in the Woods in Bristol, United Kingdom.

In art[edit]

Christ in the House of His Parents[edit]

Christ in the House of His Parents by John Everett Millais, 1849–50

In John Everett Millais's 1849–50 work, Christ in the House of His Parents, Anne is shown in her son-in-law Joseph's carpentry shop caring for a young Jesus who had cut his hand on a nail. She joins her daughter Mary, Joseph, and a young boy who will later become known as John the Baptist in caring for the injured hand of Jesus.


The subject of Joachim and Anne The Meeting at the Golden Gate was a regular component of artistic cycles of the Life of the Virgin. The couple meet at the Golden Gate of Jerusalem and embrace. They are aware of Anne's pregnancy, of which they have been separately informed by an archangel. This moment stood for the conception of Mary, and the feast was celebrated on the same day as the Immaculate Conception. Art works representing the Golden Gate and the events leading up to it were influenced by the narrative in the widely read Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine. The Birth of Mary, the Presentation of Mary and the Marriage of the Virgin were usual components of cycles of the Life of the Virgin in which Anne is normally shown here.

Her emblem is a door.[16] She is often portrayed wearing red and green, representing love and life.[3]

Anne is never shown as present at the Nativity of Christ, but is frequently shown with the infant Christ in various subjects. She is sometimes believed to be depicted in scenes of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple and the Circumcision of Christ, but in the former case, this likely reflects a misidentification through confusion with Anna the Prophetess. There was a tradition that Anne went (separately) to Egypt and rejoined the Holy Family after their Flight to Egypt. Anne is not seen with the adult Christ, so was regarded as having died during the youth of Jesus.[29] Anne is also shown as the matriarch of the Holy Kinship, the extended family of Jesus, a popular subject in late medieval Germany; some versions of these pictorial and sculptural depictions include Emerentia who was reputed in the 15th Century to be Anne's mother. In modern devotions, Anne and her husband are invoked for protection for the unborn.

Virgin and Child with Saint Anne[edit]

The role of the Messiah's grandparents in salvation history was commonly depicted in early medieval devotional art in a vertical double-Madonna arrangement known as the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne. Another typical subject has Anne teaching the Virgin Mary the Scriptures (see gallery below).



  • Marc-Antoine Charpentier composed 2 motets :
    • Pour Ste Anne, H.315, for 2 voices and continuo (around 1675)
    • Canticum Annae, H.325, for 3 voices, 2 treble instruments, and continuo (around 1680).
  • Johann Sebastian Bach composed a prelude and fugue :
    • Prelude and Fugue in E-Flat Major, BWV 552 (published 1739)

See also[edit]

  • Anna the Prophetess
  • Chronological list of saints in the 1st century
  • Church of St. Ann
  • Saint Anne, patron saint archive
  • Statue of Saint Anne, Charles Bridge
  • Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
  • St Anne's College, Oxford
  • The Line of Saint Anne


  1. ^ "O my Lord! I do dedicate into Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service: So accept this of me: For Thou hearest and knowest all things." (Qur'an 3:35).


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Fongemie, Pauly. "SYMBOLS IN ART". Catholic tradition. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  4. ^ Nixon, Virginia (2004). Mary's Mother: Saint Anne in Late Medieval Europe. The Pennsylvania State University Press. pp. 12–14. ISBN 978-0-271-02466-0.
  5. ^ Procopius' Buildings, Volume I, Chapters 11–12
  6. ^ "Holy and Righteous Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna". The Orthodox Faith – Lives of the Saints. The Orthodox Church in America. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  7. ^ "Martin Luther — Our Spiritual Guide". Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada website. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  8. ^ Brecht, Martin (1985). Martin Luther: His road to Reformation, 1483–1521. Fortress Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-4514-1414-1.
  9. ^ a b Wheeler, Brannon M. (2002). Prophets in the Quran: an introduction to the Quran and Muslim exegesis. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-4957-3.
  10. ^ a b Da Costa, Yusuf (2002). The Honor of Women in Islam. LegitMaddie101. ISBN 1-930409-06-0.
  11. ^ a b c "Reames, Sherry L. ed.,"Legends of St. Anne, Mother of the Virgin Mary: Introduction", Middle English Legends of Women Saints, Medieval Institute Publications, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 2003". Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  12. ^ "Golden Legend II.131". Archived from the original on June 5, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  13. ^ a b c "Holweck, Frederick. "St. Anne." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 3 May 2013 "The renowned Father John of Eck of Ingolstadt, in a sermon on St. Anne (published at Paris in 1579), pretends to know even the names of the parents St. Anne. He calls them Stollanus and Emerentia. He says that St. Anne was born after Stollanus and Emerentia had been childless for twenty years"". 1907-03-01. Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  14. ^ Butler, Alban; Orsini, Mathieu (1857). The lives of the fathers, martyrs, and other principal saints. ed. by F.C. Husenbeth. [With] The history of the blessed virgin Mary, by the abbé Orsini, tr. by F.C. Husenbeth. London: Henry. p. 97.
  15. ^ Nixon 2004, p. 13.
  16. ^ a b c "Lives of Saints, John J. Crawley & Co., Inc". Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  17. ^ a b "Saint Anne and Saint Joachim, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, Ottawa, Ontario". Archived from the original on 2014-08-10. Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  18. ^ "The Milky Way Project – It-Triq ta' Sant'Anna | What is the Milky Way?". Retrieved 2015-11-02.
  19. ^ "State Board Accredits New College". Hartford Courant. Hartford, Connecticut. May 26, 1944. p. 2. Retrieved November 2, 2019 – via
  20. ^ "The Chairman Dances' Bandcamp". May 29, 2015.
  21. ^ "The Calendar". The Church of England. Retrieved 2021-03-27.
  22. ^ "The Conception of St. Anne 'When She Conceived the Holy Mother of God', The Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh
  23. ^ "Saints and Feasts", Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
  24. ^ "Arm Reliquary Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine, Quebec". 1960-07-03. Archived from the original on 2013-05-08. Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  25. ^ "Flickr photograph of the so-called 'speaking reliquary' (tells the pilgrim what is venerated)" (in German). 2010-10-06. Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  26. ^ Bender (2010-07-26). "Arm relic Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls|Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls". Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  27. ^ "Butler, Alban. ed. Michael Walsh. Lives of the Patron Saints. Burns and Oates: Kent, 1987. p. 53-4". Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  28. ^ "St. Anne – Archdiocese of Detroit". Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ O. Bitschnau: Das Leben der Heiligen Gottes 1883, 558

External links[edit]

  • Brief Franciscan Media article on "Sts. Joachim and Ann"
  • "Saint Anne" at the Christian Iconography website
  • "Here Followeth the Nativity of Our Blessed Lady" from the Caxton translation of the Golden Legend
  • The Protevangelium of James
  • The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew
  • Reames, Sherry L. ed.,"Legends of St. Anne, Mother of the Virgin Mary: Introduction", Middle English Legends of Women Saints, Medieval Institute Publications, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 2003
  • Welsh, Jennifer. The Cult of St. Anne in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Routledge, 2017.