Saint Anne (also Ann or Anna, from Hebrew Hannah חַנָּה, meaning "favor" or "grace") of David's house and line, was the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ according to Christian and Islamic tradition. English Anne is derived from Greek rendering of her Hebrew name Hannah. Mary's mother is not named in the canonical gospels or the Qur'an.
According to the Gospel of James, a document of the New Testament apocrypha, Anne and her husband Joachim, after years of childlessness, were visited by an angel who told them that they would conceive a child. Anne promised to dedicate the child to God's service. Joachim and Anne are believed to have given Mary to the service of the Second Temple when the girl was three years old.
The story bears a superficial similarity to that of the birth of Samuel, whose mother Hannah had also been childless. Although Anne's cult receives little attention in the Western church prior to the late 12th century, dedications to Anne in the Eastern church occur as early as the 6th century. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Anne is ascribed the title Forbear of God, and both the Birth of Mary and the Dedication of Mary to the Temple are celebrated as two of the Twelve Great Feasts.
In Western iconography, Anne may be recognised by her depiction in red robe and green mantle, often holding a book. Images may also be found depicting Anne holding a small Mary who in turn holds an infant Christ (see gallery). Such trinitarian representations mirror similar depictions of the Trinity and were sometimes produced as pairs.
Varying theologians have believed either that Joachim was Anne's only husband or that she was married thrice. Ancient belief, attested to by a sermon of St John Damascene, was that Anne married once. In late medieval times, legend held that Anne was married three times, first to Joachim, then to Clopas and finally to a man named Solomas and that each marriage produced one daughter: Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Salomae, respectively. The sister of Saint Anne was Sobe who was the mother of Saint Elizabeth.
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