|Dante's Celestial Rose|
Italian, 15th century illumination,
Vatican, Vatican Library
On the merits of her position as grandmother of the Savior Anne is a member of that portion of the Communion of Saints that is in the Presence of God.
|Diagram of the Rose, from|
Sayers, Paradiso, 1962 1
Her place in this Communion is an exalted one. In Paradiso, the final book of his Divine Comedy Dante Alighieri places St. Anne among the highest ranks of the Blessed in his image of the Celestial Rose. (Paradiso, Canto XXXII)
She is located on the same level as St. John the Baptist, St. Peter, St. John and Moses.
Diagonal to Peter there see Anna,
Gazing upon her daughter in such content
Her look ne’er falters while she sings Hosanna. 1
|Ercole de Roberti, Madonna and Child |
with St. Anne and other Saints
Milan, Brera Pinacoteca
In art St. Anne frequently appears in works that depict the Madonna and Child along with other saints.
She is most often pictured as attendant on them, sometimes clearly visible with them, as in the paintings by Ercole de Roberti and Peter Paul Rubens
|Peter Paul Rubens, Holy Family with St. Anne, St. Francis |
and the Young St. John the Baptist
Flemish, ca. 1630s
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
|Jusepe Ribera, Holy Family with St. Anne and |
St. Catherine of Alexandria
New York,Metropolitan Museum of Art
|Jacopo Pontormo, Madonna and Child with|
St. Anne and Other Saints
Paris, Musee du Louvre
|Lorenzo Lotto, Madonna and Child with St. Anne,|
St. Jerome and a Donor
Florence, Uffizi Gallery
|Anonymous, Saints Christopher, Gereon of Colgne, Peter and Anne|
German, c. 1480
Cologne, Wallraf-Richertz Museum
|Giovanni Butteri, Madonna and Child with St. Anne and|
Members of the Medici Family as Saints
Florence, Museo della Cenacola di Andrea del Sarto
Another image of Anne appears in a curious work by Giovanni Maria Butteri.
Here Anne dominates an image of the Madonna and Child surrounded by members of the Florentine ruling family, the Medici, masquerading as several saints. Among the identified portraits are Eleonora de Toledo as Mary and her husband, Duke Cosimo I as St. Cosmas, both deceased at the time the work was painted. Other saints in the group have also been identified with various then-living members of the family.2
1. Canto XXXII, verses 133-135. The Comedy of Dante Alighieri the Florentine, Cantica III (Il Paradiso) (translated by Sayers, Dorothy L. and Reynolds, Barbara), London, Penguin Books, 1962.
2. Murphy, Caroline. Murder of a Medici Princess, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2008, pp.264-265
© M. Duffy, 2011