August 28, 2017

Holy Prophetess Anna, Daughter of Phanuel

Holy Prophetess Anna (Feast Day - February 3 and August 28)


Carried from the earth, was the daughter of Phanuel,
For on it, she saw God as a child.

In the Synaxarion of Constantinople (Feb. 3)* we read:

The Prophetess Anna was the daughter of Phanuel,** and came from the tribe of Asher, one of the twelve Patriarchs and sons of Jacob. Having dwelt with a husband for seven years, and become widowed due to his death, from that time she remained in the Temple where she dwelt the rest of her life in prayer and fasting. Because she unceasingly was found to do God-pleasing works, the blessed one was made worthy to see our Lord Jesus Christ, when He was offered to the Temple as a forty day old infant, by His All-Holy Mother and the righteous Joseph. She thanked and glorified God, and openly prophesied concerning Christ to all those who were found in the Temple, saying these words: "This Child is He Who has authority, and established heaven and earth. This Child is the Christ, regarding Whom all of the prophets proclaimed beforehand."***

According to Saint Luke’s Gospel (2:36-38):

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband for seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about eighty-four years,**** who did not leave the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming at that very hour, also gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption at Jerusalem.


* The Prophetess Anna is also celebrated with Saint Symeon the God-receiver on February 3rd, the day after the feast of the Reception of the Lord.

** The Prophetess Anna, daughter of Phanuel, should not be confused with the Prophetess Hannah, also known as Anna, the mother of the Prophet Samuel in the Old Testament.

*** These words are not in the Gospel of Luke, but a portion of these words often appear in iconography of the Prophetess Anna.

**** Commentaries and translation vary over Anna's age: some say she was a widow aged eighty-four, while others that she had been a widow for eighty-four years. It seems the latter is more of a correct translation. We are not told what age Anna married but fourteen years old would be appropriate. She was married for seven years. If therefore she was widowed for eighty-four years, then she received Christ and likely died at the age of one hundred and five. If her total age of one hundred and five is accepted then this would have reminded the readers of Luke's Gospel of another Jewish prophetess who was widowed for an extended period and died at the age of one hundred and five, namely Judith (Judith 16:23). They are both set forth as models for their exemplary widowhood.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
In the Temple thou didst embrace as an infant God the Word Who became flesh, O glorious Elder Symeon, who didst hold God in thine arms. And also as a prophetess the august Anna ascribed praise to Him. We acclaim you as divine servants of Christ.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Let Symeon the Righteous and Anna the Prophetess, that godly pair, be praised together; well-pleasing to God, they became witnesses of the Incarnate Lord. When they saw him as an infant, together they worshiped Him.