Anna the Prophet

Anna was a remarkable prophet who dedicated her life to living in the temple. Likely widowed in her twenties, she transformed her life from a young bride to a wise elder, embracing a role of profound spiritual significance. As the only woman in the New Testament explicitly called a prophet (besides Jezebel, who self-identifies as a prophet in Revelation), Anna holds a unique and esteemed position. Her lineage is no accident either; as the daughter of Phanuel, whose name means “face of God,” she truly embodies the divine presence.

Anna’s story begins with her presence in the temple, a sanctuary where she found refuge and purpose. Being a widow in her era often meant vulnerability and low social standing, yet the temple offered her a place of belonging and spiritual authority. There, she devoted herself to constant worship, fasting, and prayer, mirroring the adult Jesus in her dedication. Her unwavering vigilance enabled her to recognize the divine moment when God’s action manifested in the child Jesus. Anna is far from a passive, pious widow. Her worship had a public and influential nature, and her proclamations were ongoing, not fleeting. In the early church, prophets like Anna were held in high regard, alongside apostles and teachers. Throughout the Gospel of Luke, widows are depicted not just as recipients of charity, but as active ministers involved in prayer, fasting, and good works. Anna embodied this role, making her a respected figure within her community.

Anna was a “somebody,” a woman recognized and revered. She symbolizes the act of waiting, brimming with hope and anticipation for what is to come. She welcomed people to the temple, and on this particular day, she had an important message to share. In Luke’s Gospel, significant characters are often paired, and Anna is no exception, standing alongside Simeon. Though we do not have her exact words, her presence and message were clear and powerful. Thus begins the proclamation of the good news.