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Anne, Saint

mary anne’s century angel

Saint Anne was the mother of the Virgin Mary. Neither she nor her husband Joachim are mentioned in the canonical Gospels; their lives are described in apocryphal sources such as the second-century Protevangelium of James . This text recounts how the unhappily childless couple, after twenty years of marriage, were individually visited by an *angel, who announced that their prayers for a child were to be answered. The angel directed them to meet at the Golden Gate of the city of Jerusalem where they embraced joyfully. In due course Anne gave birth to Mary. The remarkable nature of the elderly Anne’s pregnancy is connected with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (Mary’s exclusion from the effects of original sin from the moment of her conception by natural human means). Anne’s story is similar, in some ways, to that of the Old Testament Hannah the mother of *Samuel.


The cult of Saint Anne developed first in the east. During the reign of Justinian in the sixth century churches were dedicated to her in Jerusalem and Constantinople. Veneration of Saint Anne spread to the west in the early Middle Ages and, as dedication to Mary developed and increased in the west from the twelfth century following, so did interest in Anne and Joachim. Their tales were retold and popularized especially in the thirteenth-century Golden Legend and the Speculum historiale of *Vincent of Beauvais. The important *relic of the head of Saint Anne was brought to Chartres Cathedral in 1204.


Anne appears in art as a single figure and also in narrative scenes. In sculpture at Chartres, she wears a long robe and veil and holds the infant Mary on her arm. Mary holds a book which refers to her *wisdom and the excellent education she received under Anne’s tutoring. Anne teaching Mary also appears as an independent artistic motif in late medieval and Byzantine art . Other narrative scenes found in sculpture, manuscript illustration, wall painting, and mosaic include Anne’s *prayer in the garden and the appearance to her of the angel and dove of the *Holy Spirit, the birth of Mary, and the *Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple.

Anning, Mary [next] [back] Ann, Lady Bacon (Anne Bacon, Anne Cooke) (1528–1610) - BIOGRAPHY, MAJOR WORKS AND THEMES, CRITICAL RECEPTION

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