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March 25, 2020 — Gabriel Announces to Mary the Coming of the Christ

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This Lent we found the ”Face of Christ, carrying the cross” by El Greco inspiring and enabling us to focus our attention on the Mystery of Lent and Easter. Here is another painting by the same artist about 1575 A.D. and his meditation on the Annunciation of the Lord. I invite you to use it for your own meditation on the great Mystery of Christ becoming man which this Feast proclaims. You can easily search the Internet and find a larger version as well as other paintings of his on the same theme. Here are some of my thoughts.

At the center of this work is Holy Spirit who enabled Mary to conceive.
The heavens are split open and Jesus descends from above.
The Angel Gabriel holds lilies in his left hand, symbol of virginity.
His right hand is extended pointing to heaven and announcing the great event.
His wings identify him as a messenger from God, floating on a cloud.
Mary’s right hand is in a posture open to the angel’s word.
Her left hand rests on the “Bible”, i.e. the covenant of the Old Testament.
She is seen at prayer, symbolized by the prie dieu, conversing with God.
Beneath her feet is the ancient serpent, crushed by her heel (see Genesis).
Bottom right corner is a vase of flowers, indicating her fruitful virginity.
The whole history of God’s plan of salvation for us is here.

These are some of things that I see. You may find others.
But the multiple symbols show the depths and complexity of the Mystery of the Incarnation,
which we are celebrating today.