Emerging in the early centuries of Christianity, St. Anne - mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus - become an increasingly popular figure in late medieval northern Europe, standing at the centre of an elaborately-constructed extended holy family. Despite this popularity, and the ideal model of female lay piety she represented, St Anne's absence from Scripture made her a problematic figure for Reformers. Tracing the history of the cult of St. Anne across the medieval and early modern period in German- and Dutch-speaking Europe, this book examines her shift from incredibly popular late medieval saint, to target of Protestant criticism, to reconfigured focus of post-Tridentine Catholic devotion. Drawing upon a broad range of both textual and visual sources, Dr Welsh advances novel arguments about St. Anne's cult from its medieval roots right through to the nineteenth century. Challenging received notions of her cult as the last gasp of medieval piety or a precursor of later trends, this study provides a new and multi-textured understanding of St.
Anne in Northern Europe, which can in turn be used to explore shifting relationships between domesticity and sanctity, concepts of properly pious lay behaviour for both men and women, and attitudes toward women (particularly older women) across several centuries. Perceived in these terms, St. Anne's cult provides an example of how important it is not only to move beyond old cliches that rigidly separate 'elite' and 'popular' religion, but also to look past traditional chronological boundaries in the study of medieval and early modern Europe.
The Cult of St. Anne in Medieval and Early Modern Europe by Jennifer Welsh was published by Taylor & Francis Ltd in December 2016. The ISBN for The Cult of St. Anne in Medieval and Early Modern Europe is 9781138690080.