Show Us Saint Anne

My unofficial poll on the need to explain today’s feast came to a disappointing conclusion: clergy and theologians both need schooling on whose conception is observed today. A social media friend posted an image from Conception Abbey of Mary as Immaculate Conception. Only it showed her as an adult, with all the usual Revelation accoutrements, and the Holy Spirit beaming down on her from “above.” Yes, I know it is the traditional depiction, but …

I give.

I don’t know about lay people, but I give there too. I’ve heard homiletic variations on whose conception for over a half century. I thought if I had it straight, surely most everyone else did too.

Time to advocate hard for a Lectionary change. Another social media friend suggested this Gospel:

Jesus’ mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35)

Anything would be better than the Annunciation, it seems.

Image credit of the Annunciation to Anne from the Chora Church, Istanbul: Copyright © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro, CC BY-SA 3.0,

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Show Us Saint Anne

  1. Liam says:

    I suspect part of the visual problem is the way the First World Catholicism of the latter half of the 20th century appear to have abandoned visual traditions drawn from the Protoevangelium of James like a hot potato.

    The story of SS Anne and Joachim from that apocryphal source was *immensely* popular for centuries, enough to make a major cultus and the principal patron of … mothers. That story is a significant feature of one of the greatest mural fresco series of Western art: Giotto’s masterpiece (circa 1305) in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua – but there are lots more. (FWIW, I see images drawn from that source in older churches to this day, as well as statues of St Anne teaching the child BVM to read.)

    In the Eastern tradition, the feast is The Conception by St. Anna of the Most Holy Theotokos. I would recommend The Immaculate Conception by St Anne of the BVM as the Roman cognate.

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