This Feast is the event recorded in the Gospel of Luke, 1:26-38, where the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce to her that she would conceive and bear a son, despite the fact that she was a virgin:
Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
According to our tradition, Mary had come home to her parents from the temple at fifteen when this occurred.
This feastday was selected to be exactly nine months prior to when we celebrate the Nativity of Christ (on Jan 7 in our calendar), indicating that Christ’s conception – ‘of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary’, as we say in the Creed – was a perfect conception.
In addition to our parish, many people also celebrate their nameday on this day. The etymology of these names are a derivation of ‘Good News’.
- Males: Evangelos, Evan, Angelo (some), Bechara, Beshara or Bashar.
- Females: Evangelia, Evangeline.
It should be noted that this feastday is one that touches on the Orthodox beliefs about abortion. It was from the moment of Christ’s conception that He was on earth; though not born, though not visible to many, it was from this point that he had taken on human nature. In the same way, we believe that, from the moment of conception, that which is within a mother is a child – and that which we call ‘abortion’ is, in actuality, murder.
Troparion of our church:
Today is the beginning of our salvation,
The revelation of the eternal mystery!
The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin
As Gabriel announces the coming of Grace.
Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos:
Rejoice, O Full of Grace,
The Lord is with Thee!