Today we celebrate the Annunciation of the Lord and, as Fr Paul explains, this feast is usually celebrated on 25 March but was moved because it would have fallen in Holy week due to the early Easter this year.

Fr Paul Gooley reads from the Gospel of Luke (1: 26-38) in which, the angel Gabriel visits Mary in Nazareth greeting her, saying ‘Rejoice so highly favored! The Lord is with you”.

Fr Paul says this solemnity, the Annunciation, which is also called Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary or Annunciation of the Lord, is the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive a Son by the power of the Holy Spirit and that Son is to be called Jesus. The angel’s pronouncement is met with Mary’s willing consent (“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word”), and thus precipitates the Incarnation of Christ and his redemption of the world.

The Feast of the Annunciation is one of the principal feasts of the church and is usually celebrated on March 25, nine months before Christmas.

The first authentic mentions of the feast, apart from the Gelasian and Gregorian sacramentaries, both of which mention the feast, are in acts of the Council of Toledo (656 AD) and of the Trullan Council (692 AD). The Annunciation had a particularly important place in the arts and church decoration of the early Christian and medieval periods and in the devotional art of the Renaissance and Baroque.

So, Fr Paul says, today we celebrate the Annunciation of the Lord.