26 July 2017

Sancta Anna ora pro nobis

I have always had a soft spot for S Anne, not least because she is the Patron of my wife's college at Oxford (we sent two of our children there) ... and, indeed, contributes one of her own names. Some years ago, I found it touching to seek out some of the remnants in Brittany of their devotion to their Patron ... Anna Potentissima, for example, and all that, written in large letters around the walls of the Church at Pontrieux. I pointed it out to Junior Granddaughter, whose name is Anna.

Dom Gueranger, in his marvellous collection of materials, gives us a Responsory in her honour (Anna sanctissima Britonum spes et tutela: quam in prosperis adiutricem, in adversis auxiliatricem habemus ...). reminding us of how the people of that land once suffered because they were hesitant to accept the Evil which is embodied in the godless prayer Vive la Republique. 

Gueranger reminds us that S Anne was also the  splendor Provinciae. But I will leave you with this Breton hymn ... and a question.

Lucis beatae gaudiis
Gestit parens Ecclesia,
Annamque Iudaeae decus
Matrem Mariae concinit.

Regum piorum sanguini
Iungens Sacerdos avos,
Illustris Anna splendidis
Vincit genus virtutibus.

Coelo favente nexuit
Vincli iugalis foedera,
Alvoque sancta condidt
Sidus perenne virginum.

O mira coeli gratia!
Annae parentis in sinu
Concepta virgo conterit
Saevi draconis verticem.

Tanto salutis pignore
Iam sperat humanum genus:
Orbi redempto praevia
Pacem columba nuntiat.

Sit laus Patri, sit Filio,
Tibique Sancte Spiritus.
Annam pie colentibus
Confer perennem gratiam. Amen.

My question relates to the fourth stanza: "O wondrous grace of Heaven! in the womb of her Mother Anne, the Virgin, having been conceived, treads down the head of the savage serpent".

Does that quite fit in with the defined dogma of the Immaculate Conception: that our Lady was preserved from original sin in the first instant of her being?


5 comments:

John F H H said...

My question relates to the fourth stanza: "O wondrous grace of Heaven! in the womb of her Mother Anne, the Virgin, having been conceived, treads down the head of the savage serpent".

Does that quite fit in with the defined dogma of the Immaculate Conception: that our Lady was preserved from original sin in the first instant of her being?


In statuary and painting, the BVM is often depicted treading on the head of the serpent, referring to Genesis 3:15, alongside a crescent moon, referring to the passage in Revelation 12.

The hymnographer is surely saying that Mary, even in the womb, is constantly beating down the serpent under her feet. (cf.Romans 16:20, taken up in the English Litany, "That it may please Thee .... and finally to beat down Satan under our feet".)

Preservation from original sin does not mean that the Blessed Virgin was exempt from temptation, the daily attempts (even in the womb) by Satan to seduce her.
In "treading down the head of savage serpent" Mary is successfully resiting the wiles of the devil, even before she is born.

Commissioner said...

But surely the serpent She treads down in the womb is not Her own serpent, but ours, and indeed, also Her holy mother's? She only has the strength, as a tiny, transparent, newly-conceived being, to do this precisely because She is already, and eternally, Immaculate.

John Vasc said...

A very popular saint in Austria, where many are given her name at baptism (Anna, diminutivized to Annina, Nina, Nannerl, Nettchen etc) and her feast day is, or rather was, one of the city's main festivals.
Johann Strauss II wrote his 'Annenpolka' in 1852 for St Anne's Day, when it was performed in the Prater.
The architecturally exquisite Annakirche in the middle of Vienna possesses a relic of her right hand, displayed annually on her feast day.

John F H H said...

@ Commissioner said... (26th July)

But surely the serpent She treads down in the womb is not Her own serpent, but ours, and indeed, also Her holy mother's? She only has the strength, as a tiny, transparent, newly-conceived being, to do this precisely because She is already, and eternally, Immaculate.

I feel there is something not quite right in your argument, but cannot put my finger on it. What do you understand by 'serpent', and how is the serpent hers or ours? Is not the serpent Satan?

John F H H said...

@ Commissioner said... (26th July)

But surely the serpent She treads down in the womb is not Her own serpent, but ours, and indeed, also Her holy mother's? She only has the strength, as a tiny, transparent, newly-conceived being, to do this precisely because She is already, and eternally, Immaculate.

I feel there is something not quite right in your argument, but cannot put my finger on it. What do you understand by 'serpent', and how is the serpent hers or ours? Is not the serpent Satan?