Today is the feast of Saint Ann. Who is she you may ask? Well, I was Lutheran most of my life so I asked too.
She was Mary's mother, Jesus' grandmother. She is often depicted as an older, gray-haired mother with a young girl (Mary) who is sometimes then shown holding a small Jesus. Many women in Italy feel particularly close to her, as she is the patron saint of women in labor (now I find out!) and miners, as well as such diverse places as Quebec Canada, Puerto Rico, Detroit Michigan, Taos New Mexico and the Philippines.
Not far from where I live is a village called San Guiseppe le Prata (St. Joseph in the field), with a church named Santa Anna. She is the patron saint of this small town too, and today is their feast day, which means several special masses and processions with the church, as well as concerts and fireworks at night.
My girlfriends invited me to come along with them on a pilgrimage, on foot, from our town to Santa Anna , about 5 km away. So, at 5 in the morning I joined about 150 other women from the village (and a handful of men) on a slow two-hour walk to the 7 a.m. mass. While walking the women sang and said the rosary. After the mass we each bought a ciambella and caught rides home.
Ciambella is a local bread which we call the Italian bagel, but it's only similarity is that it's ring-shaped. In some parts of Italy it is a ring-like cake made for Easter, but here it is a very plain braided ring-shaped bread, hard on the outside and somewhat softer and chewy inside, about 10 inches in diameter. You break off a piece and start chewing. It's best when you have something handy to wash it down!
Auguri to any Anna's who may be reading this (as well as women in labor and older mothers)!