Known as the mother of the Virgin Mary, and therefore grandmother of Jesus, Saint Anna has been revered across the world. While her name does not appear in the New Testament, she’s remembered through the gospel of James, whose questions of authenticity kept it out of the Biblical Canon. Like many Biblical figures before her, Saint Anna struggled to have a child with her husband, Joachim. Yet when they prayed to God, an angel appeared and promised them a daughter. From there, the rest is history.
Marina Grande considers Saint Anna their patron saint. The church in the ancient fishing village is name in her honor, and the institute bears her name. July 26th is Saints Anna and Joachim’s feast day, a cause for celebration that envelopes Marina Grande on a grand scale.
This year, festivities started July 17th with neon lights shaped like seashells and neon-colored snowflakes across the promenade. Sweets stands with gummy candies and other treats temporarily appear beside long-standing restaurants and businesses. Stuffed animals entice younger children to play their carnival games. In the shade of an awning at the end of the street, a woman sells handmade handkerchiefs. The handkerchiefs come with a special blessing offering protection for pregnant women, as Sant’Anna is also the patron saint of pregnancy and motherhood.
The Sunday after feast day, trumpets blast early in the morning to signal the beginning of a large procession where the statue of Sant’Anna is carried around Sorrento. From July 26th until August 1st, Holy Mass is held hourly, and traditional games, songs, and food can be found throughout the Marina.
Perhaps the most anticipated part of the celebration is the fireworks. At 11:30pm, the sky lights up as brilliant fireworks go off above the water accompanied by classical music. While it means the end of festivities for another year, the entire celebration highlights the beauty of the Catholic tradition.
In an ironic twist, the best place to see the fireworks is on the terrace of Sant’Anna’s dorms. To find out how you can study abroad and experience cultural traditions like these, check out our website. Applications for Spring 2020 are currently being accepted.