Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Annunciation

Title: The Annunciation

Artist: John Collier

Medium: tbd

Size: tbd

Date: 2003

Location: St. Gabriel's Catholic Church, McKinney, Texas.

As recorded in Luke 1: 26-33, in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, to a virgin named Mary, who was pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. Gabriel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

This section of Luke’s Gospel focuses on the simple faith of a teenage girl, Mary. As a young girl, perhaps twelve or fourteen years old, Mary would have has virtually no social status with which to expect such a laudatory greeting. Indeed, it is easy to understand why she would have been “troubled” by such words. The artist, by depicting Mary’s age and innocence in a more contemporary way, has reinforced the magnitude of Gabriel’s declaration that she has found favor with God and will give birth to a son. Though this Annunciation is set in suburbia the symbolism is quite traditional, with Mary reading from Isaiah about the Virgin who bears a son, and the lily, which represents her purity, positioned between her and Gabriel.

John Collier is one of America's most honored artists, his work having been exhibited at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, the New York Historical Society Museum, the Smithsonian Institute’s Traveling Art Exhibition, as well as many churches and religious institutions. From a selected group of more than thirty artists, John Collier was chosen as the chief sculptor for the Catholic Memorial at the World Trade Centre’s Ground Zero. More of his work can be seen at

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