With the present article we wish Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s readers around the world a most blessed and joyous Feast of the Annunciation.
In her sermon on the Incarnation, the 16th-century Franciscan mystic, Mother Juana de la Cruz (1481-1534), describes the archangel Gabriel as the “matchmaker” of a wedding between God and the Virgin Mary. Greeting her, the archangel announces: “Almighty God told me that he wanted me to be the ambassador and the matchmaker [casamentero] in such an excellent and marvelous wedding.”
In the late 12th-century icon of the Annunciation, housed at St. Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai, the archangel Gabriel assumes a similar stance in the foreground of the icon. Hand upraised and greeting the Virgin, he is clearly the royal messenger of a momentous event. Maximus the Confessor similarly describes Gabriel as “her herald and messenger” having him explain to Mary that “the Holy Spirit will come upon you to prepare and adorn you as a bride…” One commentator on the icon detects a wedding veil drawn back in the window depicted just over the Virgin’s shoulder. This same commentator understands the rooftop garden above the window as the “garden enclosed” of the Song of Songs (4:12) and symbol of her virginity. Maximus will ask us to “consider and examine the glory of the unwedded bride and the dowry of her virginity.” Saturated in gold, the icon evokes a royal wedding already underway. Gabriel successfully negotiates the royal matchmaking.
Maximus’s description of the setting for the Annunciation vividly paints the scene: Read More