HAIL, MARY, FULL OF GRACE: A New Look at the Annunciation

On March 25—exactly nine months before Christmas—the Catholic Church commemorates the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel appeared to a young Jewish girl and told her that God would like her to be the mother of the Savior.  “How can this be,” Mary responded, “since I know not man?”

Contemporary artist John Collier tells the story of the Annunciation in a fresh way in this painting, which can be found in the narthex of St. Gabriel Catholic Church in McKinney, Texas.

In Collier’s “Annunciation,” Mary is a young schoolgirl dressed in blue and white.  When the angel Gabriel comes to her, she is reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 7 verse 14, where the prophet proclaims the sign that God will give:  “The virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”

Some of the traditional elements can be found in the painting:  The lilies are a recognizable symbol of Mary’s purity.  The intact glass pane next to the door typifies Mary’s perpetual virginity.  And look closely:  A dove, representing the Holy Spirit, rests on a nearby house—not presuming Mary’s response but awaiting it.


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