Feast of the Annuciation, 2010

March 25, 2010

The Virgin’s Salutation

Spell ‘Eva’ back and ‘Ave’ shall you find,
The first began, the last reversed our harms;
An angel’s witching words did Eva blind,
An angel’s ‘Ave’ disenchants the charms.
Death first by woman’s weakness entered in;
In woman’s virtue life doth now begin.

O Virgin’s breast, the heavens to thee incline,
In thee they joy and sovereign they agnize;
Too mean their glory is to match with thine,
Whose chaste receipt God more than heaven did prize.
Hail, fairest heaven, that heaven and earth do bless,
Where virtue’s star, God’s sun of justice, is.

With haughty mind to godhead man aspired,
And was by pride from place of pleasure chased;
With loving mind our manhood God desired,
And us by love in greater pleasure placed.
Man, labouring to ascend, procured our fall;
God, yielding to descend, cut off our thrall.

— St. Robert Southwell

11 Responses to “Feast of the Annuciation, 2010”

  1. Janet Says:

    Thanks. I love that picture. I have it hanging in my classroom at church.


  2. cburrell Says:

    I love it too, but it was actually not the Annunciation that I wanted to post. In a gallery in Europe I once saw the most amazing altarpiece depicting the Annunciation, but now I can remember neither the artist nor the place I saw it. It might have been Cimabue, or possibly Giotto, and it might have been at the Prado in Madrid. But I can’t find it. So I “settled” for Beato Angelico.

    Have a happy and blessed feast day!

  3. Christina A. Says:

    Craig, thank you for the reminder to celebrate this feast – I had no idea it was today until I read your post this evening.

    I gave up “sweets, treats, candy and dessert” for Lent. Have been craving all of the above all day. Have now celebrated the Annunciation by drinking a strawberry milkshake.

    Will have to also say some Marian prayers before bed to round my celebration out…

  4. cburrell Says:

    I am glad to be of service, Christina. It’s a lucky thing for you that our lax bishops have canceled the Holy Day of Obligation that used to — and ought to — fall on this day. Though I agree that it is hard to get out when you have a wee one in tow. For what it’s worth, I too loosen the Lenten belt a little on this feast. Cheers!

  5. KathyB Says:

    If you describe to me the annunciation you meant, I may be able to find it for you. That way I can at least put my art history degree to some use 😉

  6. cburrell Says:

    It was like a snapshot of heaven: all yellows, silvers, pearls, and golds. The angel was on the left, the Virgin on the right. The angels words were inscribed, on a scroll or a beam of light, that issued from his mouth. They may even have been written backwards, so that the “A” of “Ave” was on the far right, closest to Our Lady, but I am not certain of that. It was fairly large — at least six feet high, I’d say, and probably ten feet long. The craftsmanship was immaculate, and it looked almost brand new, no obvious evidence of its great age.

    I really wish I could remember it better, as it was one of the two most breathtaking things I’ve ever seen in a gallery. (The other was van der Weyden’s Descent from the Cross, which definitely was at the Prado.)

  7. cburrell Says:

    Addendum: It might have been at the Uffizi in Florence. The style was medieval.

  8. cburrell Says:

    The closest thing I can find is this one, by Simone Martini. The basic composition is right, but, if it is the one I am thinking of, the photograph does not nearly do justice to the original.

  9. KathyB Says:

    Actually, from your description, the Simone Martini was what came to my mind. Annunciations often have the angel’s greeting written upside down, presumably so that God could read it from heaven.

    My favourite painting of all time is a van der Weyden crucifixion diptych that is in Philadelphia. Here’s a pic, slightly off-colour:

  10. KathyB Says:

    Based on your description, the Simone Martini is what I had in mind.

    The angel’s greeting is often written upside down in paintings of the annunciation, presumably so God could read it from heaven.

  11. cburrell Says:

    Yes, I think it must be right. But those pictures are really sad representations of the original. The original is stunning.

    Have you been to the Uffizi? When I was there I was amazed by how shoddy it was: poor lighting, glare on the glass covering the paintings, fingerprints on the glass covering the paintings, etc. It is one of the most famous art collections in the world, and yet… well, I guess they don’t have any trouble attracting crowds, so maybe they don’t make an effort to beautify the place.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen, or at least never noticed, the upside-down writing!

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