The Annunciation

Hand painted icon of The Annunciation

The Annunciation is one of the twelve great feasts of the liturgical year. The feast of the Annunciation is celebrated on 25th March. The icon of the Annunciation is then placed in the centre of the church for veneration. Additionally there is often the image of the Annunciation on the Royal Doors in the iconostasis, Mary the Mother of God in Christian hymnography is sometimes referred to as the royal Door, or Gate, through which the King – Jesus entered human history. Or else the image is seen on the walls of the church, flanking the apse – Mary on the right (facing the apse) and Archangel Gabriel on the left.

The icon of the Annunciation is among the earliest developed Christian images. The oldest surviving one dates back to 4th century. There are several types of the icon the most common being the one with Mary seated inside a building (the Jerusalem Temple) she is pictured spinning scarlet yarn for the veil of the Temple. On the left is the dynamic figure of Gabriel arriving with the news. Above the two figures there is the half-circle representing heaven, from which a ray points at Mary. This signifies Mary being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, and that the Child to be born of her is of divine, as well as human origin. Another type (much less common) is the Annunciation at the well, based on an apocryphal account of the event. The icon displayed is of the simplest type, preserving only the most essential details.