Friday, September 8, 2017

The Blessed Virgin Mary and Her Mother

Today is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the Catholic Church we celebrate three births: the Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Savior Jesus Christ, his mother's, and St. John the Baptist's. We celebrate Mary's nativity nine months after we celebrated her Immaculate Conception.

According to the Protoevangelicum of St. James, the names of Mary's parents were Joachim and Anne. St. Anne is one of my patron saints.

As England, through Duns Scotus, heralded the dogma of Mary's Immaculate Conception (freedom from original sin through the free gift and grace of God), England also developed devotion to St. Anne early on, as this study demonstrates:

the cult of St. Anne was so closely connected with that of the Virgin Mary, especially at the beginning, that it is not easy to tell where the one leaves off and the other begins. 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. The earliest sign of her veneration in the West is an eighth-century fresco in the church of Santa Maria Antiqua, Rome, which shows her with a halo, holding the infant Mary. But not until the twelfth and thirteenth centuries is there unmistakable evidence that the Western church was honoring St. Anne in her own right, rather than just an adjunct to Mary. During those 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. By 1300 at least five important English monastic foundations were also claiming to have relics of Anne, and dozens of additional shrines, altars, and chapels had been dedicated to her, both in England and on the Continent.

Liturgical commemorations of Anne in the West seem to have followed a similar course of development, except that monastic houses in England played a more central role. The story of Joachim and Anne received at least passing mention in the liturgy for one of the oldest annual feasts of Mary, the Nativity of the Virgin (September 8 in Western calendars), which was included in the Sacramentary of Gelasius (c. 700) and firmly established in Anglo-Saxon England by the ninth or tenth century. Anne's role tended to take on more importance when an annual feast was added to celebrate the Conception of the Virgin (observed exactly nine months earlier - i.e., December 8). There is good evidence that the Conception was being commemorated at Winchester, Exeter, and Canterbury before the Norman Conquest, and this feast day was revived in the twelfth century through the efforts of Benedictine writers like Eadmer of Canterbury and Anselm of Bury, although it became generally established in England only after 1328 (when it was made obligatory for the whole Province of Canterbury) and was not clearly mandated for the Church as a whole until 1476 (when Pope Sixtus IV confirmed the Council of Basel's ruling on the matter). England also preceded most of the Continent in instituting a separate feast day for Anne herself (July 26). The date traditionally associated with the adoption of this feast is 1382, the year in which Pope Urban VI authorized its celebration throughout England, but it was already being celebrated in the twelfth century in some of the great English monastic churches, most notably those at Worcester and Evesham.

The great flowering of Anne's cult among the laity occurred between about 1300 and the Council of Trent in the mid sixteenth century. By 1540 there were at least 40 medieval churches and chapels under her patronage in England, the majority of which had been dedicated or rededicated to her during the previous two centuries. She also had major shrines at Buxton (Derbyshire) and Wood-Plumpton (Lancashire), and was frequently chosen by prosperous laymen and women as patron saint of their guilds and recipient of special bequests and offerings. As Gail Gibson has shown, such devotion to her seems to have been unusually strong in East Anglia. Many churches had cycles of paintings or tapestries illustrating key scenes from her legend, or portraits of the Holy Kinship that showed Anne surrounded by her daughters and grandsons. . . .

Please read the rest there.

The painting above is by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, one of the Pre-Raphaelites.

No comments:

Post a Comment