9 december: The Conception by Saint Anna of the Most Holy Theotokos; Saints: Prophetess Anna (Hannah), mother of Prophet Samuel (ca.1100 BC); Saint Vassa (Bassa), Patrician and Igumenia of a female monastery in Jerusalem, where she also founded the Monastery of St Menas, whose Abbot was the Bishop Stephanos of Jamnia; Martyr Easios, tortured and beheaded (ca.284-305); Martyr Isaac; Martyr Nerses of Persia, by the sword; Martyr Sositheus of Persia, by the sword (553); Saint Sophronius the Archbishop of Cyprus (6th c.) Saint Stephen “the New Light” of Constantinople (912); Saint Syrus of Pavia, first Bishop and main patron-saint of Pavia in Italy (ca. 1st c.); Virgin-martyr Valerie of Limoges (Valeria of Aquitaine), converted by St Martial of Limoges and beheaded (1st or 3rd c.); Virgin-martyr Leocadia (Locaie), in Toledo, Spain (ca.303); Saint Proculus of Verona, Bishop of Verona, a confessor during the persecution of Diocletian, reposed in peace (ca.320); Martyrs Peter, Successus, Bassian, Primitivus and 20 other Companions, in North Africa; Saint Cyprian, a monk at Périgueux in France, who ended his life as a hermit on the banks of the Dordogne (586); Saint Restitutus, Bishop of Carthage in North Africa and Martyr; Saint Balda, third Abbess of Jouarre in France (7th c.); Saint Budoc (Budeaux), born in Brittany, became Abbot of Youghal in Ireland, then Bishop of Dol in Brittany (7th c.?); Saint Ethelgiva (Æthelgifu), the daughter of King Alfred the Great, became first Abbess of Shaftesbury (896); Saint Wolfeius, a hermit at St Benet Hulme in Norfolk in England (ca. 1000); Saint Enguerrammus (Angilram) 'the Wise', monk and Abbot of Saint Riquier in France (1045); Hieromonk Anthymus the Athonite, "Fool-for-Christ"; New Hieromartyr Vladimir, priest (1919); New Hieromartyr Vladimir, priest and Virgin-martyr Ephrosia (1920); New Hieromartyrs Protopresbyter Basil Yagodin, and priest Alexander Buravtsev (1937); New Martyr Priest Sergius Mechiev of Moscow (1941); New-Martyr Archpriest Paul Levashov of Gomel; Other Commemorations: Commemoration of the Founding of the Church of the Resurrection at Jerusalem (335); Repose of Archimandrite Theodosius of Tismana and Sophroniev Monasteries, fellow-struggler of St. Paisius Velichkovsky (1802); Repose of Elder Anthimus the Bulgarian on Mt. Athos (1867); Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos "Unexpected Joy".
St 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 (September 9), 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 Orthodox Church does not accept the teaching that the Mother of God was exempted from the consequences of ancestral sin (death, corruption, sin, etc.) 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.
The Conception of the Virgin Mary by St Anna took place at Jerusalem. The many icons depicting the Conception by St Anna show the Most Holy Theotokos trampling the serpent underfoot.
“In the icon Sts Joachim and Anna are usually depicted with hands folded in prayer; their eyes are also directed upward and they contemplate the Mother of God, Who stands in the air with outstretched hands; under Her feet is an orb encircled by a serpent (symbolizing the devil), which strives to conquer all the universe by its power.”
There are also icons in which St Anna holds the Most Holy Virgin on her left arm as an infant. On St Anna’s face is a look of reverence. A large ancient icon, painted on canvas, is located in the village of Minkovetsa in the Dubensk district of Volhynia diocese. From ancient times this Feast was especially venerated by pregnant women in Russia.