Giotto, Joachim and Anna at the Golden Gate

Scrovegni Chapel, Padua

This is the last of the chapel's six panels presenting the legend of Saints Joachim and Anna, the parents of the Virgin Mary. After his exile in the countryside, Joachim returns to Jerusalem and embraces Anne at Jerusalem's Golden Gate.

In the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew Anne waited for Joachim at the gate "with her maidens." These would be the young women behind her in the image. Standing with them is a woman wearing the black garb of a widow. In medieval thought a widow can represent "the Church who awaited her spouse, Christ."1 The figure here may thus refer to the imminent end of that long wait that is approaching with the birth of Mary, pictured in the fresco directly across the nave from this one.

Corresponding to Anne's maidens, one of Joachim's shepherds enters the frame from the left edge. He carries a basket in his right hand and holds a staff or rod with his left.

Read more about images of St. Joachim.
Read more about images of St. Anne.

Photographed at the chapel by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

1 Clark, 22.