I finally completed this icon, with much prayer for the unborn and their mothers as I worked. It is fitting that the icon was completed as the Washington DC March for Life wrapped up, and the West Coast March for Life is still going on.
The Feastday of the Annunciation is celebrated on April 8 in the Western Church, and on March 25 in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Here is an Orthodox prayer for this liturgy:
Today is the beginning of our salvation,
the revelation of the eternal mystery:
The son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin
as Gabriel announces the coming of Grace.
Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos:
Rejoice, O Full of Grace,
the Lord is with you!
There are 3 main “versions” of icons of the Annunciation. This one depicts the moment of Mary’s consent to the word of God. She stands to listen to the word of her Lord and King, her head bowed in assent, her hand raised towards her breast in loving submission to the request that will change all of history. The other hand holds a skein of red yarn. Tradition has it that Mary was weaving a new veil for the Tabernacle within the temple when the angel appeared, the same veil that would be torn in two at the moment of Christ’s death on the cross. The angel has a hand extended in blessing. He hovers, not quite touching the floor, having hurried to serve as messenger of God. There is a moment of stillness, as the angel awaits Mary’s response.
In his book The Meaning of Icons, Leonid Ouspensky explains some of the symbols in this icon in this way: “The Angel serves the miracle, the virgin womb receives the Son, the Holy Spirit is sent down (the rays), the Father sends His favour from on high (the sphere), and the transformation is made by mutual consent.”