Saint Anna the Prophetess was a noteworthy figure in biblical history. She was the daughter of Phanuel, who hailed from the tribe of Aser—one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Anna was among the few devout Jewish women who deeply believed in the prophecies of the Old Testament and eagerly anticipated their realization in the New Testament.
At a young age of fourteen, Anna was married, but tragically, she became a widow by the age of twenty-one. This faithful woman played a significant role in the early life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After Mary was presented in the Temple at the tender age of three, it was Anna who took care of her until Mary’s betrothal at fourteen.
By the time Anna met the young Mary, she was already seventy-two. Twelve years later, at the age of eighty-four, she witnessed a momentous event. When Mary and Joseph presented the infant Jesus in the Temple, Anna was one of the few who recognized His significance. While most Jewish women and priests in the Temple overlooked Jesus, Anna, along with Simeon, welcomed Him. It was Simeon who, in Anna’s presence, declared, “Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace.”
Anna’s name translates to “grace,” a fitting descriptor for a woman who stood by Mary, who herself was often referred to as “full of grace.” In Mary’s formative years, it could be said that she was not only filled with grace but also constantly accompanied by it, embodied in the figure of Anna.