The ‘Annunciation’ is the official title for the biblical story where the Archangel Gabriel ‘announced’ to the Virgin Mary that she was to become a mother to Christ. This sculpture, based on the gospel account of this event, was designed by the Gothic Revivalist Augustus Pugin. It’s found within the Lady Chapel of the church of St Peter the Apostle in Woolwich.
The scene is of Gabriel appearing to Mary, who is seated on a throne. She is shown with a copy of Scripture in her hand. The descent of the Holy Spirit to bring about the conception is graphically shown in gold, with the symbol of the dove in flight. The lilies in between the two characters are a traditional symbol of the Virgin.
From a Christian perspective, this angelic encounter is understood as a turning point in history. As St John Paul II once reflected: “The Annunciation, recounted at the beginning of St Luke’s Gospel, is a humble, hidden event – no one saw it, no one except Mary knew of it -, but at the same time it was crucial to the history of humanity. When the Virgin said her “yes” to the angel’s announcement, Jesus was conceived and with him began the new era of history that was to be ratified in Easter as the ‘new and eternal covenant’.”
The Church’s traditional ‘Angelus’ prayer – recited at morning, noon and evening – is essentially a meditation on the Annunciation. The opening words of the ‘Hail Mary’ prayer – which is also a key part of the Angelus – are taken from Gabriel’s words of greeting that are recorded in Luke 1:28.
See the full image:
Where you can find this work of art
St Peter the Apostle, Woolwich
Read the relevant passage