March 2011 Prayer and Reflection
From the March 2011 cover of Living with Christ
By Living with Christ Staff
The Annunciation, c.1430-32 (tempera and gold on panel) Fra Angelico (Guido di Pietro), c.1387-1455
LOCATION: Prado, Madrid, Spain
CREDIT: The Bridgeman Art Library International
While his brother Dominicans in Fiesole, Italy, knew Guido di Pietro as Brother John (Fra Giovanni), he was nicknamed Fra Angelico because of the purity of his paintings. Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982, Bl. John of Fiesole or Beato Angelico is the patron of artists.
An altarpiece for the Church of San Domenico in Fiesole, The Annunciation illustrates both the lavish gilding of the Gothic style and the new elements of the emerging Renaissance: architectural perspective and three-dimensionality of the figures, e.g., the realistic way in which their garments hang.
Mary sits in quiet prayer in a simple, light, airy portico. In a radiant beam of light, the dove of the Holy Spirit descends from the heavens to speak to her heart. The angel Gabriel seems less a messenger than an awe-filled witness to Mary’s humble acceptance of God’s will. The facial expressions point to the multifaceted mystery of the Incarnation—at once joyful, sorrowful, luminous, and glorious!
If you wish, sit quietly with the picture, and reflect on the following questions:
- How might I open the “portico” of my heart during Lent this year?
- To what might God’s Spirit be inviting me?
- What can Mary teach me?