Here in Spain I’ve been busy sending messages to all of my friends named Ana because today is the feast day of St Anne, or Santa Ana, the mother of the Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus Christ.
I’m also thinking of Anne Boleyn day on her saint’s day and wondering if she was born on the feast of St Anne or whether she was simply named after a family member, perhaps one of her godmothers, after all she had aunts named Anne.
St Anne was very important to Anne Boleyn. Here is an excerpt from an article I wrote a few years ago:
In his book, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives explains how John Leland and Nicholas Udall’s tableau at Leadenhall in Gracechurch Street for Anne Boleyn’s coronation procession took St Anne as its theme. There, on a hill below a tree stump, sat St Anne and her descendants – her daughters, the Blessed Virgin, Mary Salome and Mary Cleopas; and their families. The message of this tableau was that the pregnant Anne Boleyn was England’s hope for an heir and that she “would go on to rival the maternal success of her patron saint” and namesake. At this tableau, Anne was addressed by a boy speaking verses written by Nicholas Udall:
For like as from this devout Saint Anne
Issued this holy generation,
First Christ, to redeem the soul of man;
Then James th’apostle, and th’evangelist John;
With these others, which in such fashion
By teaching and good life, our faith confirmed,
That from that time yet to, it hath not failed…
As Ives points out, it was all rather ironic seeing as St Anne only produced daughters!
As the boy finished speaking, out of the tree stump flowed red and white roses and then, out of a cloud painted on the roof of the tableau, swooped Anne Boleyn’s white falcon. The falcon landed on the stump and flowers and was then crowned by an angel with an imperial crown. It was Anne Boleyn’s falcon badge brought to life, explaining that Anne would revive the dead, barren Tudor line with children that came from both the York and Lancastrian lines.
Nasim Tadghighi, in her wonderful article 31 May 1533 – Anne Boleyn’s Coronation Procession, explains also that “The name Anne was equated with ‘grace’ promoting the idea that through Anne’s marriage to the monarch and the bearing of issue, the realm would receive God’s favour, as St Anne was favoured by being the mother of the Holy Virgin.”
Happy St Anne’s Day to all Annes, Annas and Anas!