May is the traditional month to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary and it happens to be the topic for classroom lessons this month so including your favorite statue or other image of her is an obvious focus for your classroom prayer table. Mary is one of the most popular subjects in all of art history so you’ll have no trouble finding something you like.
I chose this one simply because it’s a favorite of mine. I love the work of Fra Angelico and the Annunciation is my favorite Mystery of the Rosary and all the gold tones in this piece remind me of the glory of Easter, so out of thousands of choices this is the one I pick for this month.
I love her humility and youth, but I especially love the fact that her finger is holding her place in the book. I know, I know – that’s probably not the most compelling thing about this image but it’s such a great human touch and reminds me of a few things.
Traditional images of the Annunciation show that Mary was studying and praying when Gabriel suddenly showed up for his visit. She didn’t have an appointment for an angel to drop in an ask her to be the Mother of God, so seeing her pictured this way just implies that study and prayer were a typical, routine part of her life. (Lovely Example #1) It also seems to me that she is expecting God to work in her life and is waiting and to see what today brings. (That expectation is Lovely Example #2 to me.) This expectation means she’s ready to respond (“Be it done unto me according to Your word!”). She doesn’t have to clear her schedule or finish up something before responding. Anyway, those are a few of my rambling thoughts about the Annunciation. (I have lots more, but it’s time to hit the Publish button and get on to some other work.)
One more thing – the other part of this work can be found here. It’s not known if they were originally part of an altarpiece or if these two faces were cut from a larger work, but they clearly belong together.
If you want a reminder of what this Leading with Beauty thing is all about, click over here for an explanation.