The Sant’Ana Museum opened last September in Tiradentes, in our old colonial prison. Saint Anne is believed to be Mary’s mother, or Christ’s grandmother, and entered the Roman Catholic liturgy in the 12th c. Brought to Brazil by the Portuguese, the mythology around Sant’Ana flourished in the verdant tropics, where she is revered as the patron saint of both miners and domestic homes. (More generally she’s considered the patroness of unmarried women, housewives, women in labor, grandmothers, horseback riders, cabinet-makers, and sailors.) While none of her story is scriptural, she is venerated in Brazil in part for her ability to intercede, on the sinner’s behalf, with Christ (making Christ a somewhat distant figure), and was transformed into a maternal icon, who ensures the fertility of couples and supervises growing households.
Over 300 of her images are collected here, from the 17th through 20th centuries, largely from Minas Gerais. Most are “double-Madonna” images, while a few have grandmother showing grandson the Old Testament. Some, endearingly, are travel-size.