Lindenwood professor publishes book about Virgin Mary’s mother

Lindenwood professor writes book on mother of Virgin Mary

Lindenwood University-Belleville professor Jennifer Welsh recently had a book published called "The Cult of St. Anne in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. " St. Anne is the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ.
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Lindenwood University-Belleville professor Jennifer Welsh recently had a book published called "The Cult of St. Anne in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. " St. Anne is the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ.

A Lindenwood University-Belleville professor has spent the last decade researching St. Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ.

Jennifer Welsh, who lives in St. Louis, recently had a book, “The Cult of St. Anne in Medieval and Early Modern Europe,” published. The nonfiction scholarly work was published by Routledge as part of the Sanctity in Global Perspective series.

Welsh first began researching St. Anne when she was a graduate student. She took a graduate school seminar about religion and popular culture in Medieval and early-modern Europe between the years 1000 A.D. and 1500 A.D.

“It was really fascinating to me,” she said. “A lot of what you are looking at when you look at popular religion during that period, it’s not about whether did this saint ever really exist, did this saint really do these things, did these miracles really happen; it’s really about what does it mean that people believed that.”

She found interesting research about St. Anne, who Welsh said wasn’t really popular until 1300 or 1400.

“By 1500 in northern Europe, she’s incredibly popular,” Welsh said. “There’s speculation about why did this happen. Why did she suddenly became so popular?”

During the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, there was a lot of criticism, Welsh said, because St. Anne is “not actually in the Bible.”

As she started doing more research, Welsh realized one of the things nobody really talked about before was “not just that she (St. Anne) becomes really, really popular and then she goes away, but in Catholicism, she comes back, but what people say about her has really changed.

“I thought she was a really good way to trace these long-term changes in how do people think about saints and how do people think about a saint who is female and older and a mother and grandmother,” Welsh said.

The big thing is St. Anne’s family structure — her three marriages and three children including the Virgin Mary — was prevalent during the pre-Protestant Reformation and Medieval times, but then it goes away in Catholicism, according to Welsh. However, St. Anne comes back minus two husbands, Welsh said.

“What does that say about what people thought was appropriate, what people thought was appropriate for the mother of the Virgin Mary? What’s appropriate for a widow? Or what’s appropriate behavior for older women?” Welsh said. “It allows me to talk about a lot of different themes and a lot of different ideas.”

It’s never going to be a New York Times best-seller, but hopefully other people will find it interesting too.

Jennifer Welsh, a professor at Lindenwood University-Belleville

Welsh, who grew up near Rochester, N.Y., has been teaching history at Lindenwood since August 2014. She previously taught at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. At Lindenwood, she teaches world history, European history and Asian history. “It’s a very nice variety,” she said of the classes she teaches.

Welsh, who is in her early 40s, said she’s always been interested in history. She recalled reading books about history when she was in high school.

Welsh has a bachelor’s degree in history from University of Richmond in Virginia, master’s degree in medieval studies from Cornell University and a doctorate in history from Duke University. “It’s a lot of school,” she said with a laugh.

Welsh is looking forward to starting a new project, which may eventually turn into a second book.

Welsh’s book about St. Anne is available on Amazon in hardback ($145.50) and e-book ($43.41). She thinks her book will appeal to both historians and graduate students. “It’s never going to be a New York Times best-seller,” Welsh said, “but hopefully other people will find it interesting too.”

She hopes it may inspire a future graduate student.

Welsh has the following advice for others interested in publishing a book: “remember that your first draft is always going to be terrible,” “be patient with it; don’t expect it’s going to be done in a week,” and “persevere.”

SWIC students win broadcasting award

A group of students at Southwestern Illinois College have been named a finalist for Best Radio Drama through the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System and was named a finalist for Best Radio Drama.

“This is the first time our students have submitted an entry for national competition and the first award recognizing the quality of their work,” Mac Chamblin, instructor of Radio Production at SWIC, said in a news release.

The students submitted a 25-minute science fiction comedy called “Space Monster-Rama,” which they produced, acted, directed and edited. Students involved in the production were Aeschylus (Ace) Augustin of Granite City; Kevin Fleming of Belleville; Kira Garza of New Athens; Blake Johnson of Belleville; Vincent Martinez of Fairview Heights; Matthew Scally of Belleville and Ethan Seaman of Belleville.

The group will receive a Golden Microphone Award during a convention next month in New York City. The Intercollegiate Broadcasting System will announce its choice for first place among the seven finalists at the convention.

McKendree speech and debate opens spring season

The McKendree University speech and debate team opened its spring season by winning 39 awards and qualifying five more events for nationals.

Katie Reining is now qualified in communication analysis and duo with Emma Webster, while Webster is also qualified in drama. Andrew Wagner is qualified in impromptu speaking, while Taylor Rossi is qualified in after dinner speaking.

Jamie Forsythe: 618-239-2562, @BND_JForsythe