The Cult of St Anna in Byzantium: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Cult of St Anna in Byzantium

1st Edition

By Eirini Panou


188 pages

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The Cult of St Anna in Byzantium is the first undertaking in Byzantine research to study the phenomenon of St Anna’s cult from the sixth to the fifteenth centuries. It was prompted by the need to enrich our knowledge of a female saint who had already been studied in the West but remained virtually unknown in Eastern Christendom. It focuses on a figure little-studied in scholarship and examines the formation, establishment and promotion of an apocryphal saint who made her way to the pantheon of Orthodox saints. Visual and material culture, relics and texts track the gradual social and ideological transformation of Byzantium from early Christianity until the fifteenth century. This book not only examines various aspects of early Christian and Byzantine civilisation, but also investigates how the cult of saints greatly influenced cultural changes in order to suit theological, social and political demands.

The cult of St Anna influenced many diverse elements of Christian life in Constantinople, including the creation of sacred spaces and the location of haghiasmata (fountains of holy water) in the city; imperial patronage; the social reception of St Anna’s story; and relic narratives. This monograph breaks new ground in explaining how and why Byzantium and the Orthodox Church attributed scriptural authority to a minor figure known only from a non-canonical work.

Table of Contents


List of illustrations

List of abbreviations



1: The emergence of St Annaʼs cult in Jerusalem and Constantinople

The Probatike and fifth-century ecclesiastical politics in Jerusalem

The church of Mary at the Probatike as Maryʼs birthplace

The emerging cult of St Anna in Constantinople

The Justinianic model of the Probatike in the Post Sixth century topography of

Constantinople: The Pege, the Chalkoprateia and the Hodegetria

Imperial patronage after Justinian I in Constantinople and beyond: Basil I- Leo


The text of Theophanes Continuator revisited

Justinian I, the Macedonian dynasty and St Anna


2: Relics- Feasts- Social approaches

Part I. Relics

First group: Palestine-St Anna’s relics in the Probatike

Second group: From Palestine to France

Third group. The relics in Constantinople and Rome: The Patria and scholarly


The translation according to the Patria

The translation from Constantinople to Rome: scholarly views and evidence

The relics in Constantinople in the sixteenth century

The Pammakaristos church

Fourth group. From Trebzond to Athos


Part II. Feasts


The Conception of St Anna/ Kissing of Joachim and Anna

Significance of the feast

Scholarly views on the development of the feast Celebration in Constantinople

The Nativity of Mary

Significance of the feast

Origins in Palestine

Scholarly views on its development in Constantinople

Spread in Constantinople

The Entry of Mary

Development of the feast

The Dormition of St Anna and the feast of Sts Anna and Joachim


Part III. Social approaches

Hagiography: St Anna and iconophilia

Hagiography :St Anna and childbirth

Histories: St Anna and iconophilia in Theophanes’s Chronographia and the

Patria of Constantinople

Church calendars, hagiography and histories: Women at the church of Blachernai

Demonstration of Orthodoxy: Annas in monasteries- the Synodikon of Orthodoxy


Martyria of various Annas in Constantinople: The Russian travellers

St Anna the Virgin

Martyrs and Mothers named Anna

St Anna of Leukate

Conclusions to chapters 1 and 2

3: The visual evidence

Egypt - Cathedral of Faras (eighth and tenth centuries)

Constantinople and Rome in the fifth and sixth centuries

Santa Maria Antiqua: The Three Mothers

Chapel of St Nicholas, Paros (Greece, eighth century)

Southern Italy- Crypt of St Christine (tenth century)

Cappadocia (ninth to thirteenth centuries)

The earliest extensive Mariological cycle. The Marian cycle in the chapel of

Joachim and Anna at Kizil Tchoukour

Anna’s and Joachim’s iconic portraits

Anna as a mother

Glorification of Christ –Incarnational role

Healing qualities


Constantinople (tenth to fourteenth centuries)

Ethiopia (thirteenth century)

Greece (tenth to fifteenth centuries)

Central Greece


Greek islands (excluding Crete)

Crete :

Anna as a mother

Anna suckling the Virgin

Anna holding the Virgin

Christological associations: Anna and Joachim and the Mandylion

Christological associations: Anna and Joachim, the Mandylion and Mary’s


Icons-Book covers

Fulfilment of prophecies

Military saints


Icons from Crete


4: An overview



About the Author

Dr. Eirini Panou studied Art and Archaeology at the National Kapodistrian University of Athens and earned her Ph.D. in Byzantine Studies from the University of Birmingham (2012). After the completion of her post-doctoral research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel) in 2015, she became adjunct faculty at the Open University of Patras and Cyprus teaching Byzantine art and Byzantine Public and Private Life. She is also research associate of the National Research Centre in Athens. She has produced articles on the cult of saints in Byzantium, on art, on female patronage, on magic, on theology, on the Protevagelion of James, and on Byzantine history.

About the Series

Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Studies

Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Studies is devoted to the history, culture and archaeology of the Byzantine and Ottoman worlds of the East Mediterranean region from the fifth to the twentieth century. It provides a forum for the publication of research completed by scholars from the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK, and those with similar research interests from around the world.

For further information about the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]


Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Ancient / General