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Saint Anne

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Mother of the Virgin, Maternal Heroine, Woman of Amram
Bornbefore c. 49 BC
Bethlehem, Hasmonean Judea
Diedafter c. 4 AD
Venerated inOrthodox Church
Eastern Catholic Churches
Roman Catholic Church
Oriental Orthodox Church
Anglican Communion
Afro-American religion
Major shrineApt Cathedral, Basilica of Sainte-Anne d'Auray, Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré
Feast26 July (Roman Catholic),[1]
9 September (Eastern Orthodox)[2]
AttributesBook; door; with Mary, Jesus or Joachim; woman dressed in red or green[3]

According to apocrypha, as well as Christian and Islamic tradition, Saint Anne was the mother of Mary, the wife of Joachim and the maternal grandmother of Jesus. Mary's mother is not named in the Bible's 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 AD) seems to be the earliest that mentions them. The mother of Mary is mentioned but not named in the Quran.

Christian tradition


The story is similar to that of Samuel, whose mother Hannah (Hebrew: חַנָּה Ḥannāh "favour, grace"; etymologically the same name as Anne) had also been childless. The Immaculate Conception was eventually made dogma by the Catholic Church following an increased devotion to Anne in the twelfth century.[4] Dedications to Anne in Eastern Christianity occur as early as the sixth century.[5] In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Anne and Joachim are 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 invoking St. Anne while endangered by lightning.[7]

In Islam


Anne (Arabic: حنة بنت فاقوذ, romanizedḤannah bint Faḳūdh) 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 Quran describes her remaining childless until her old age. One day, Anne 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, Anne vowed to dedicate him to isolation and service in the Second Temple.[N 1][8][9]

However, Anne 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:[8][9]

When she delivered, she said, “My Lord! I have given birth to a girl,”—and Allah fully knew what she had delivered—“and the male is not like the female. I have named her Mary, and I seek Your protection for her and her offspring from Satan, the accursed.” So her Lord accepted her graciously and blessed her with a pleasant upbringing—entrusting her to the care of Zachariah...


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.[10] However, despite having been condemned by the Church, it was taken over almost in toto by another apocryphal work, the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, which popularised most of its stories.[11]

Ancient belief, attested to by a sermon of John of Damascus, was that Anne married once. [citation needed] 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. Frederick George Holweck, writing in the Catholic Encyclopedia (1907) regards this genealogy as spurious.[12]

In the fourth century and then much later in the fifteenth century, a belief arose that Mary was conceived of Anne without original sin. 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.[12] 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.

The thirteenth century Speculum Maius of Vincent of Beauvais incorporates information regarding the life of Saint Anne from an earlier work by Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim Abbey.[13]


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

In the Eastern church, the veneration 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 eighth-century fresco in the church of Santa Maria Antiqua, Rome.[10]

The Feast of the Conception of the Virgin Mary had reached southern Italy by the ninth century. The cult of Saint Anne had developed in northern Europe by the twelfth century.[citation needed] A shrine at Douai, in northern France, was one of the early centers of devotion to St. Anne in the West.[15]

The Anna Selbdritt was a type of iconography depicting the 3 generations of Saint Anne, Mary, and the child Jesus. Emphasizing the humanity of Jesus, it drew on the earlier conventions of the Seat of Wisdom, and was popular in northern Germany in the 1500s.[16]

During the High Middle Ages, Saint Anne became increasingly identified as a maritime saint, protecting sailors and fisherman, and invoked against storms.[17]

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]


Feast of Saint Anne in Marsaskala Parish Church [fr], Marsaskala, Malta

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.[20] 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.[21] In the Roman Catholic Church, the Feast of Saints Anne and Joachim is celebrated on 26 July.

Feast day


Roman Catholic Church

  • 26 July

Eastern Orthodox Church


Anglican Communion



  • 26 July

Coptic Orthodox Church and Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church


Armenian Apostolic Church


Syro-Malabar Church


Syro-Malankara Catholic Church


Maronite Church




The alleged 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.[12]

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.[10] St. Anne's relics have been preserved and venerated in the many cathedrals and monasteries dedicated to her name, for example in Austria, Canada,[28] Germany, Italy,[29] and Greece in the semi-autonomous Mount Athos, and the city of Katerini.[30] 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 twelfth 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[15] 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.[31]

She is also the patron saint of: Brittany (France), Cuenca (Ecuador), Chinandega (Nicaragua), the Mi'kmaq people of Canada, Castelbuono (Sicily), Quebec (Canada), Santa Ana (California), Norwich (Connecticut), Detroit (Michigan),[32] 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, Molo, Iloilo City, Balasan, Iloilo, 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


Christ in the House of His Parents

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.[15] 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.[33] 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 fifteenth 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


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).




See also



  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." (Quran 3:35).


  1. ^ "Who is Saint Anne?". Archived from the original on 17 January 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  2. ^ "St. Anna Orthodox Saint History and Name Day Information". 27 February 2005.
  3. ^ a b Fongemie, Pauly. "Symbols in Art". Catholic tradition. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  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 13 September 2020.
  7. ^ Brecht, Martin (1985). Martin Luther: His road to Reformation, 1483–1521. Fortress Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-4514-1414-1.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ a b Da Costa, Yusuf (2002). The Honor of Women in Islam. LegitMaddie101. ISBN 1-930409-06-0.
  10. ^ 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". Lib.rochester.edu. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  11. ^ Ehrman, Bart; Plese, Zlatko (21 July 2011). The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-983128-9.
  12. ^ 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"". Newadvent.org. 1 March 1907. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  13. ^ Nixon 2004, p. 12.
  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. ^ a b c "Lives of Saints, John J. Crawley & Co., Inc". Ewtn.com. Archived from the original on 18 July 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  16. ^ Welsh, Jennifer. The Cult of St. Anne in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, Routledge, 2016, ISBN 9781134997879
  17. ^ a b "Saint Anne and Saint Joachim, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, Ottawa, Ontario". Olomc-ottawa.com. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  18. ^ "The Milky Way Project – It-Triq ta' Sant'Anna | What is the Milky Way?". maltastro.org. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  19. ^ "State Board Accredits New College". Hartford Courant. Hartford, Connecticut. 26 May 1944. p. 2. Retrieved 2 November 2019 – via newspapers.com.
  20. ^ "The Conception of St. Anne 'When She Conceived the Holy Mother of God', The Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh
  21. ^ "Saints and Feasts", Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
  22. ^ "The Calendar". The Church of England. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  23. ^ a b "ИОАКИМ И АННА". www.pravenc.ru. Retrieved 29 May 2022.
  24. ^ Armenian Church. "Commemoration of Sts. Joachim and Anna, Parents of the Holy Mother of God, and Oil-Bringing Women". armenianchurch.ge. Retrieved 29 May 2022.
  25. ^ "Syro-Malabar Liturgical Calendar" (PDF).
  26. ^ "The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church – The Sacred Lectionary" (PDF).
  27. ^ "Saint Joseph Maronite Catholic Church" (PDF).
  28. ^ "Arm Reliquary Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine, Quebec". Shrinesaintanne.org. 3 July 1960. Archived from the original on 8 May 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  29. ^ "Flickr photograph of the so-called 'speaking reliquary' (tells the pilgrim what is venerated)" (in German). Flickr.com. 6 October 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  30. ^ Bender (26 July 2010). "Arm relic Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls|Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls". Vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  31. ^ "st_anne". 17 April 2016. Archived from the original on 17 April 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  32. ^ "St. Anne – Archdiocese of Detroit". Aod.org. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ O. Bitschnau: Das Leben der Heiligen Gottes 1883, 558