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July 29, 2014

A Rare 13th Century Fresco of Saint Anna Galaktotrophousa


"And when the days were fulfilled, Anna purified herself from her childbed and gave suck to the child, and called her Mary." - Protoevangelium of St. James

In the 11th century Metropolitan Church of Saint Stephen in Kastoria there is a separate chapel within dedicated to Saint Anna painted with images of maternity. There are three 13th century depictions of Saint Anna in this chapel, together with another mother saint and her two children whose identity is debateable. Among the images of Saint Anna is one known as Galaktotrophousa (Milk-feeding), which shows Saint Anna nursing the infant Mary, showing motherly tenderness, care, nurture and love.

Read more about this image in the article "Painted Sources for Female Piety in Medieval Byzantium" by Sharon E.J. Gerstel [Dumbarton Oaks Papers 52 (1998): 89-111].