Christmas 1: Anna

Gospel: Luke 2:22-40.

The character who fascinates me here is – no points for guessing this! – Anna.

an icon in the Eastern style shows, from left to right, Simeon, Mary, Jesus, Joseph, and Anna, against a background of dramatic architecture

The Presentation of Jesus

In this icon, she is depicted on the far right, holding a scroll – symbolising her role as a prophetess. We know next to nothing about her – her name, but not the name of her husband only of her father (about whom we know nothing else); that she was old, but not exactly how old; that she “spoke about the child” but not what she said. We know that she was very devout, spending all her time in the temple in prayer and fasting, and that she was pleased to see the baby, since her first reaction was to give praise to God. We don’t know what she saw in him; was she one of those who would later be disappointed by the way the adult Jesus turned out? It’s tempting to assume that her prophecy was accurate, but not knowing what it was we can’t be sure of that.

in a elaborate room, a group of people stand looking at a baby. The two on the right are Simeon, who holds the child, and Anna, dressed in blue and carrying a scroll.

Presentation in the Temple by Ambrogio


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