One of our parishioners from Richmond has very kindly offered to contribute wonderful works of art, along with a short commentary, on particular days of the liturgical calander. These will no doubt help us enjoy the day and enter into the mysteries of our faith. The first, for the great Solemnity of the Annunciation, is given below.
Ludovico Carracci (Bologna 1555-Bologna 1619), The Annunciation, 1584, 182,5 x 221 cm, Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale
Mary is reading a prayer book, kneeling in front of a lectern in the intimacy of her bedroom. Having gently entered the room, the Angel Gabriel offers her a lily, symbol of her purity. He then delivers God’s message, in an explicative gesture that reveals who sent him, our Father who is in heaven. Mary’s arms crossed on her chest show that she has just said: “Here I am, The Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said." Therefore the Holy Spirit, represented as always by a dove, is flying through the window “to come upon her”. The white sheet in her stitching basket foreshadows Christ’s Shroud.
The first characteristic of this painting is its sheer simplicity and the lack of ornamentation. Lodovico Carraci is a leading painter of the Catholic Reformation. From his native town of Bologna, visible through the window in the painting, he aims at helping his contemporaries, and us too, to understand Mary’s extraordinary trust in God.