The Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary–that she would be the Mother of God–is celebrated each year on March 25. Because of this, March 25 is precisely nine months before Christmas! Here’s five more fascinating facts about the Annunciation!
“The Annunciation” by Fra Angelico (ca. 1437-1446)
1. The Annunciation only appears in Luke’s Gospel
The account appears in Luke 1:26-38. Luke’s Gospel, along with Matthew’s Gospel, feature Jesus’ “Infancy Narratives,” and Mary was the unique provider of what we know about Jesus’ earliest years, as we recognize from this well-known line in Luke 2:51: “His mother kept all these things in her heart.”
2. Gabriel gives a unique greeting to Mary
In Luke 1:28, Gabriel addresses Mary as “Hail, favored one” (or “Hail, full of grace,” depending on the translation). Of the numerous scriptural interactions between angels and [mere] humans, the exceedingly respectful salutation of “Hail” is the only time in the entire Bible in which an angel praises a human being. This both indicates and underscores Mary’s uniquely prominent role within salvation history, as a person highly favored by God. After all, Gabriel told Mary that “[she had] found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).
3. Gabriel prompts the naming of Christ
Mary and Joseph do not have the prerogative of choosing Jesus’ name. Gabriel informs Mary that “you shall name him Jesus” (Luke 1:31). “Jesus” – or “Yeshua” in the original Hebrew – means “God saves.”
4. Mary remained a virgin throughout her entire life
The Catholic Church has professed this for nearly two millennia. Tim Staples at Catholic Answers has two rather recent treatments of this from May 2016, “How We Know Mary Was a Perpetual Virgin” and “More Reasons for Mary’s Perpetual Virginity.”
While we celebrate the Annunciation, let’s ask for the powerful intercession of the three saints involved: Saint Gabriel, pray for us! Saint Mary, pray for us! Saint Joseph, pray for us! Also, of course, most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!