She is the patron saint of marriages, mothers, widows, bakers and sailors.
In paintings and iconography she is often depicted with the Virgin Mary as a girl or with the Virgin Mary and little Jesus such as the one shown above, painted by Leonardo de Vinci in 1508, now hanging in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
One of the most famous churches carrying her name can be found in Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania. Formerly known as Wilno, the city was at one time part of the Polish-Lithuanian empire until the partitions of Poland. The church was built by Polish King Aleksander Jagiellonczyk beginning in 1501, right within the same time period as Leonardo was struggling to pay homage in his own vision of the saint. In much later years, it was said that even Napoleon, after seeing the church during the Franco-Russian war in 1812, coveted the architectural jewel built of 33 different kinds of brick.
In Poland, Saint Anne enjoys unflagging popularity with 184 churches built in her honor as well as numerous sanctuaries, the largest located southeast of Opole in Silesia and called Górze Świętej Anny, the Mountain(or Hill) of St. Anne. The Franciscan monastery and the Church of St. Anne, built in 1209 and sitting high at 1,263 feet above sea level, is a unique place of worship visited by thousands of pilgrims each year. They are drawn by the miraculous figure located on the main altar known as Św. Anna Samotrzecia, the word "samotrzecia" an old Polish word meaning threesome or three of us, roughly meaning the St. Anne Threesome: the three figures of St. Anne, with her daughter Mary and grandson Jesus, in her arms. (below)
Yet, we do not find any word of Anne in the New Testament. The only information about her comes from apocryphal writings, that is, writings from the beginning of Christianity by unknown individuals, and subsequently of doubtful authenticity but remains part of the church traditions. The writings say that Anne was from Bethlehem and married a wealthy young man from Nazareth named Joachim. They were devoted to one another but their happiness was marred by the lack of children. They prayed for a child but years passed without an answer. Anne was considered barren when at the age of 45 an angel appeared announcing that they will become parents. In gratitude for the gift of an offspring, the parents offered their only child, Mary, later known as the Blessed Virgin Mary, to God.
The cult of Saint Anne appeared around the 4th century and expanded over time with increasing reverence towards the Virgin Mary. It was born among those who wished to place themselves in the care of the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus. Families, brides, spouses, women expecting offspring, childless women, mothers, grandmothers and widows placed themselves under her care and protection.
It is generally acknowledged that St. Anne was born on a Tuesday. In the folklore of the people of the Tarnów-Rzeszów region of Poland, it is believed that whosoever burns a candle to St. Anne every Tuesday throughout the night and prays to her, will not be afflicted by poverty.
The successful marriage of St. Anne is reflected in the Polish proverb that says, "Szczęśliwy kto na świętą Annę wyszuka sobie pannę"
"Fortunate is the man who finds himself a young woman on the Feast of St. Anne."
Happy name day to all Anne's, Anna's, and Hanna's and the numerous variations in Polish such as Ania, Anka, Hanka, Hania.
One of the biggest moments in my life was being able to sign for my very own library card. When I'm not reading, researching and writing I'm riding my bike, sewing or gardening. I love flea markets, folk art, and traveling to Poland.