Commemorated on December 9 / 22
Saint Anna, the mother of the Virgin Mary, was the youngest daughter of the priest Nathan from Bethlehem, descended from the tribe of Levi. She married St. Joachim, who was a native of Galilee. For a long time St. Anna was childless, but after twenty years, through the fervent prayer of both spouses, an angel of the Lord announced to them that they would be the parents of a daughter, Who would bring blessings to the whole human race. The Conception of the Virgin Mary by St. Anna took place at Jerusalem.
The Orthodox Church does not accept the teaching that the Mother of God was exempted from the consequences of ancestral sin (original sin) at the moment of her conception by virtue of the future merits of Her Son. Only Christ was born perfectly holy and sinless, as St Ambrose of Milan teaches in Chapter Two of his Commentary on Luke. The Holy Virgin was like everyone else in Her mortality and in being subject to temptation, although She committed no personal sins. She was not a deified creature removed from the rest of humanity. If this were the case, She would not have been truly human, and the nature that Christ took from Her would not have been truly human either. If Christ does not truly share our human nature, then the possibilty of our salvation is in doubt.
On May 9, 2004 – Mother’s Day in the U.S. – an Icon of St. Anna, the Mother of the Holy Virgin Mary, located in the Russian Orthodox Church of Our Lady of Joy of All Who Sorrow in Philadelphia began to stream myrrh. On that Sunday one of the parishioners mentioned to the parish rector, Archimandrite Athanasy that the Icon of St. Anna seemed to be “perspiring”. Upon further investigation, Fr. Athanasy noticed visible liquid streams and droplets. Accumulations of the liquid were seen on the cuff on St. Anna’s left hand and on her left shoulder veil. Droplets were also found elsewhere on the Icon. This fragrant, slightly oily liquid is commonly referred to as “myrrh”. Initially the myrrh looked like tear drops, as if St. Anna was crying. More recently small, slow-moving streams of myrrh have appeared in other parts of the Icon.
The Icon of St. Anna had been commissioned by Fr. Athanasy in 1998, in the Mount of Olives Convent in Jerusalem. He himself had served there in 1980-1981. In 1998, the Icon was completed, blessed at the Sepulcher of our Lord in the Jerusalem Church of the Resurrection, and brought to Philadelphia.
As of Fall 2012, the Icon resides at St. Tikhon’s Monastery and has a wonderful heavenly fragrace but is not currently weeping. Assistance and healings are still wrought by the miraculous Icon of St. Anna and She continues to work wonders for those who approach will faith. From ancient times this Feast was especially venerated by pregnant women in Russia.