The First Holy Relic of Saint Anna
The holy relic gifted to the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Anna in Roseville, California, by the Very Reverend Cheroubim Apostolou, the Dikaios (Superintendent) of the Skete of Saint Anna of the Monastery of Great Lavra on Mount Athos, Greece, is a quarter size piece from the skull of Saint Anna, their matron. The Grace of God is revealed in this holy relic through the sweet-smelling fragrance that emanates from the very relic itself. In accordance with the truth of the Gospel, the sin of man is considered a foul odor before God while a virtuous and holy life is “a sweet-aroma of Christ unto God” (II Corinthians 2:15).
The Protoevangelium of James, an extrabiblical source, offers some insight into her person. Anna was of the tribe of Levi and the daughter of Matthan the priest. She was wed at the age of nineteen to Joachim. Childless for some fifty years, it was only by the grace of God that this aged couple conceived, bearing a daughter, Mary, who would later be the birth-giver of Jesus, God in the flesh. At the age of seventy-nine, following her repose, Anna’s body was buried in accordance with Jewish custom in Jerusalem.
A short time after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the holy relics of Saint Anna were collected and venerated by the early Christians as she had the unique honor of being the grandmother of Christ. As such, her relics became the possession of the Church of Jerusalem, later gifted to the Christian Patriarchate of Antioch and the Holy Monastery of Kykkos on the island of Cyprus, an early Christian community first settled by Lazarus who had been raised from the dead by Jesus. Today her relics are venerated in the Patriarchal centers of Jerusalem, Antioch, the Skete of St. Anna, a Catholic Church in Germany, and the Greek Orthodox Church in Roseville.
The dialogue between Fr. Cheroubim of the Skete of Saint Anna and Fr. Christopher Flesoras of the Church of Saint Anna in Roseville that led to formal gifting of this Holy Relic began at the funeral of the late Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco on December 29th, 2004, at the Ascension Cathedral in Oakland. Their frequent email communications following his internment culminated in the gifting of this Holy Relic in the Kyriakon, the main Church of the Skete of Saint Anna, on February 10, 2005.