The Annunciation. 2021. Egg tempera and gold on panel. 10x12"
Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ took flesh and became human in his conception by the Most Holy Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary. This event is called the Annunciation, and is celebrated on March 25, exactly 9 months before our Lord's Nativity on December 25 (Christmas).
In this most important event of the salvation of humanity, the Archangel Gabriel visited the Most Holy Theotokos, and announced to her the good news of our Lord's conception and incarnation (i.e. Gospel or Evangelismos, the Greek name for the feast). The Angel cried:
"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women....Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end. "(Luke 1:28-33)
Mary, in perfect obedience, replied: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38) The Panagia's will was totally and absolutely aligned with God's will. Her perfect obedience undid the disobedience of Adam and Eve. The Annunciation is the beginning of our salvation and the reversal our first parents' fall in the Garden of Eden:
"There, it was from a woman that the fall and its consequences began, and here, it was from a woman that all the good things began. Thus, the Panagia is the new Eve. The sensory paradise was there, here the Church. There Adam, here Christ. There Eve, here Mary. There the snake, here Gabriel. There the whispering of the serpent-snake to Eve, here the angel's salutation to Mary." (Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos, quoting Joseph Bryennios in The Feasts of the Lord, pp. 24-25)
When the Archangel arrived, the Theotokos was weaving the veil for the Holy of Holies. Mary had grown up living within the Holy of Holies, the innermost sanctuary of the temple, in deep contemplative prayer (hesychasm). Her extreme purity, holiness, and love for God, attracted Him to herself to become His mother. In obedience to the Law, she had to leave the temple when she came of age, and was betrothed to Saint Joseph, an elderly widower, who could protect her, and allow her to continue her chaste and contemplative life.
In this icon, Mary, the New Eve, is seated in contemplative prayer, weaving the veil for the Holy of Holies. As the living Temple and holy Ark, the Mother of God is enthroned under a veiled ciborium. Her gesture conveys her assent to the Divine will and the incarnation of the Word of God. The Archangel Gabriel approaches in fear as the minister of this great mystery. His almost serpentine posture suggests his role as the anti-serpent as his salutation undoes the serpent’s lies. I have depicted the Annunciation happening within the walled, flowering garden of Paradise, as this event is the reversal of the Fall and the beginning of our return to Paradise.