The Annunciation to the Theotokos

The Annunciation to the Theotokos

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Though we are in the midst of Lent, we celebrate a holiday on March 25 that is one of the great feast days of the Orthodox Church. The Annunciation to the Theotokos commemorates the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. The angel foretold that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would become incarnate and enter into this world through her womb.

In the Gospel of Luke 1: 26-38, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

Mary is then informed that she will conceive and bring forth a Son, and His name shall be Jesus. Since she has not been with a man, Mary asks how this can be? “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’”

An Illustration of a Miracle

The icon of the Annunciation is very beautiful. The Angel Gabriel is on the left with his legs apart, as if running to tell the good news to the Virgin Mary. In his left hand is a staff, which is a symbol of the messenger. His right hand is extended as he delivers the message to Mary.

The Virgin sits on an elevated seat. This is a sign that as the Mother of God she is “Greater in honor than the cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim, who without corruption gave birth to God the Word.”

Notice the spindle of scarlet yarn in her left hand. This shows the task she is assigned of preparing the purple and scarlet material to be used in making the veil for the Temple in Jerusalem. She has her right hand raised as a gesture of acceptance in response to Gabriel’s message.

Mary’s garment has three stars referring to her virginity before, during, and after the birth of Jesus. The half circle at the top of the icon represents the divine realm, and the three rays extending from it are the action of the Holy Spirit coming upon Mary.

I was born on November 21, which is the Entrance of the Theotokos, and I love Mary with all of my heart. She represents the epitome of all motherhood, and as a mother and grandmother I pray to her for strength. Her devotion to God and our Lord Jesus Christ is an example for all of us. My grandson’s baptismal name is Gabriel, and this adds even more meaning to this holiday and its beautiful icon.

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Joanne Jamis Cain

Joanne Jamis Cain is a steward of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. She has been married to the love of her life, Jim for thirty five years. They have two beautiful children and two grandchildren. Joanne is a wedding and event planner. Visit her blog at http://katherinesdaughter.com/. Her first book "Ordinary Is Extraordinary" was published in spring of 2016.