Theresa Doyle-Nelson is a freelance writer from the Texas Hill Country. While her background is in education, with seven years as a teacher and substitute principal, Theresa found writing to be a stronger calling. Theresa grew up outside of the Rochester, New York, area and attended St. Bonaventure University, where her grandfather, uncle, cousin, Godson and nephew are also alumni. After graduating from St. Bonaventure in 1981, Theresa moved to Brownsville, Texas, to teach elementary school, then to San Antonio to teach first grade. While in San Antonio, Theresa had a chance meeting which re-introduced her to an acquaintance from St. Bonaventure, Chad Nelson. The two married within a year, and enjoyed traveling around as a U.S. Marine Corps family. During a three-year stay in Naples, Italy in the mid-90s, Theresa took a correspondence writing course, and has been writing for various Catholic resources ever since. Theresa and Chad have three sons, two daughters-in-law, a future daughter-in-law and five grandchildren. Theresa is also the author of Saints in Scripture.. You can find her online at TheresaDoyle-Nelson.blogspot.com.
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. ―Luke 2:36a, 37b
Feb. 3, the day after the Feast of the Presentation, honors a saint seldom mentioned in saint books, St. Anna the Prophetess.
There are only three verses in the New Testament that share information on St. Anna, yet her brief encounter with Christ is compelling.
Not long after the birth of Jesus, after the time for purification was completed as laid out in the twelfth chapter of Leviticus, Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem. At first, the couple met Holy Simeon, who quickly felt an intense amazement over the Christ Child, strongly sensing that the baby was the promised Messiah. After Simeon’s blessing, the Holy Family encountered Anna.
Just a handful of details are known with certainty about this Anna. Her father’s name was Phanuel and she was of the tribe of Asher―an intriguing point due to the fact that the tribe of Asher was part of the northern kingdom of Israel, which was lost to the Assyrians in 722 B.C.. How an identifiable descendant of Asher ended up in city dozens of miles away and centuries later with her faith intact is thought-provoking.
Luke’s Gospel also tells that Anna had been married for only seven years before becoming a widow and was quite elderly (84 years old) when she met the Holy Family at the Temple. Anna would remain at the Temple constantly, living in continuous prayer and fasting. This highly pious woman was also known as a prophetess and undoubtedly had a very close relationship with God, understanding spiritual matters that others could not.
Anna, like Holy Simeon, was instantly struck by the presence of the baby Jesus when she met the Holy Family. She also seemed to mystically realize that the child was the much-hoped-for Messiah. Upon seeing the baby, Anna gave great thanks to God. She then shared with many others, who also hoped for redemption, knowledge of the babe―her words and actions giving remembrance to the message of the prophet Isaiah:
Break out together in song, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the LORD has comforted his people, has redeemed Jerusalem. ―Isaiah 52:9
Six Days with St. Anna the Prophetess
If this kind, prayerful, elderly woman calls out to you, consider spending a few days contemplating some Bible passages to help understand her life, and her Tribe-of-Asher heritage a little better:
- Luke 2:22–24
- Leviticus 12
- Luke 2:36–38
- Isaiah 52:9
- Genesis 30:12
- Joshua 19:24
- 2 Kings 17:6, 18