Friday, July 24, 2009

St Anne, "Flowering, Fruitful Rod of Jesse"

This year for St Anne's feastday we have a beautiful theme of 'The Flowering Rod of Jesse". It is an ancient title connected to Our Lady as well as St Anne.

St Anne's body was removed from Jerusalem when Lazarus, Mary Magdalene and Martha were cast out upon the Mediterranean Sea without oars by the Jews who were persecuting the very early Christians. They were miraculously guided to the shores of France and there St Anne's body was eventually hidden in the town of Apt until it's miraculous discovery by Charlemagne.

Here is a quote from the book, St Anne, Grandmother of Our Saviour about what ancient symbol was found near the body of St Anne:

"St Anne's body was then placed in an opening in the wall excavated from a subterranean gallery known as the Antrum Antiquum, which had originally been a branch of the catacombs. It was reached by a short flight of steps and hedged in by the cathedral ramparts. This wall opening, which would now become an ossuary, would be sealed in and not marked in any way; but on that part of the passage ceiling which was directly beside it a design would be carved, intelligible only to the initiate.

This design is still visible, in exacly the same form wherein it was graven so many centuries ago. It consists of the flowering branch of a tree, interlaced with a vine bearing both foliage and grapes. To look at it is an experience so moving that, months after gazing at it, this chronicler finds it impossible even to write of it without profound emotion. For it reveals, unmistakably, that when the stone slab was carved, even as now, men and women were reverently reciting the litany which begins:

"St Anne, Grandmother of our Saviour, pray for us."

And continues: "St Ane, Root of Jesse, St Anne, Fruitful Vine....pray for us."

The fruitful vine carved into the ceiling above St Anne's body in Apt. (in photo below)

Personally, we require no further confirmation of our belief that this became St Anne's last resting place. But to the doubting Thomas-or Thomasne, as the case may be - has only to look at the slab beside the one which shows the root of Jesse and the fruitful vine."

In the book, My Nameday: Come for Dessert (pg 198) Helen McLoughlin draws upon this ancient title connected to St Anne where she suggests a cake, maybe in the shape of a book with an image of the 'flowering rod' on the front. Helen also goes on to share this beautiful table prayer below:

Father: We all rejoice in the Lord. As we keep holiday in honour of blessed Anne. Of her whose feast fills angels with joy, And sets them praising the Son of God.

All: Amen

Father: Spotless Anna, Juda's glory, Through the Church from East to West, Every tongue proclaims they praises, Holy Mary's mother blessed.

All: From thy stem in beauty budded Ancient Jesse's mystical rod; Birth from thee received the Mother Of the almighty Son of God.

Father: Let us pray. O God, You were pleased to bestow Your grace upon Anne so that she might fitly become the mother of her who was to bear Your only-begotten Son; grant that we who keep her feast will be helped by her protection. Through Christ, our Lord.

All: Amen. Christ conquers, Christ reigns!

Below is the very simple but effective cake we made to symbolize the flowering rod of Jesse. It is a Chocolate Ripple Cake and you use the following ingredients.

Chocolate Ripple Cookies, I used 2 and half packets
Cream that can be whipped thick. (I add a bit of sugar to sweeten the cream)
Cocoa powder to colour the whipped cream
Milk, small bowl (to dip the biscuits into)
Plain chocolate bar, grated
Assorted lollies for decoration

I dipped each biscuit quickly in milk and shook off the excess. With a flat knife I applied whipped cream to one side of each biscuit and joined them together on the pan as you can see below. I made three rows and then fashioned a few on the side to create the side stem. Once the shape is made, I lightly covered the whole biscuit creation in whipped cream. Then I covered the cream in grated chocolate.

I just bought lollies that could be used for creating leaves, grapes and flowers. I used marshmallows cut in half for the flowers seen below. Then it is put in the fridge until ready to serve, in our case we will serve it up tomorrow on St Anne's feast day!

This is a very quick and simple recipe that will visually delight the children and will give you ample opportunity to explain the religious connection of the Flowering Rod of Jesse to the wonderful and blessed St Anne, Grandmother Our Lord.
Happy Feast Day!
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  1. Simple, but GORGEOUS! Thanks for sharing, Anne. Happy nameday. (Wish we COULD come for dessert!)

  2. Anne, this is beautiful, and looks like a lot of fun to make! Today promises to be (yet another, unusual!) stormy, cool day in the North East US, and this will be a terrific,kid-friendly activity.

    As an aside, I have to admit I love the word "lollies." It's not one that is used around here, but I may just start! :)

  3. Happy nameday, Anne, thank you for sharing, I think this is a great way to bring children closer to some religious notions and really really fun! Yet another great post!
    God bless!

    Liturgy of the Hours

  4. Ooooh... ahhhh...

    Very cool idea!!