16. The Annunciation.
8th March 1944.
What I see. Mary, a very young girl: She looks fifteen years old, at most. She is in a small rectangular room: a room most suitable for a girl. Along one of the longer walls, there is a bed: a low bed, without bedstead, covered with thick mats or carpets, which appear to be laid on boards or cane-trellis, because they are very stiff and without any curve, as is usual with our beds. Against the other wall there is a kind of bookcase with an oil lamp, some rolls of parchment, some needlework carefully folded: it seems to be embroidery work.
Beside the bookcase, towards the door, which opens onto the kitchen garden and which is now covered by a curtain gently moved by a light breeze, there is the Virgin sitting on a low stool. She is spinning some linen which is as white as snow and as soft as silk. Her little hands, just a little darker than linen, are whirling the spindle very quickly. Her beautiful young face is slightly bent forward and She is smiling gently as if She were caressing or following some sweet thought.
There is a great silence in the little house and in the kitchen garden. There is a great peace both on Mary's face and in the surrounding place. There is peace and order. Everything is neat and tidy and the room, although very modest looking and very modestly furnished -it is almost as bare as a cell- has something austere and regal about it because of its cleanliness and the care with which everything is laid: the clothes on the bed, the rolls, the lamp, the copper pitcher near the lamp, with a bunch of branches in bloom in it. I do not know whether they are peach or pear branches. They are certainly branches of a fruit-tree, with pinkish white flowers.
Mary begins to sing in a low voice, then She raises Her voice slightly. But She does not sing loudly. Still, it is a voice vibrating in the little room and one can perceive the vibration of Her soul in it. I do not understand the words as they are spoken in Hebrew. But as now and again She repeats "Jehovah" I realize that it is a sacred song, perhaps a psalm. Mary is probably remembering the songs of the Temple. And it must be a happy memory because She lays Her hands in Her lap, while still holding the yarn and the spindle, and lifts Her head leaning against the wall: Her face is beautifully flushed and Her eyes are lost behind... I wonder what sweet thought. Her eyes are shining with tears, which appear but do not overflow and they make Her eyes look larger. And yet those eyes are smiling, they are smiling at a thought they can see and by which Mary is abstracted from the earthly world. Mary's face, flushed and girded by the plaits She wears rolled up like a crown round Her head, seems a beautiful flower, as it emerges from Her plain white dress.
The song changes into a prayer: "Most High Lord God, do not delay any longer in sending Your Servant to bring peace to the world. Grant us the favourable time and the pure and prolific virgin for the coming of Your Christ. Father, Holy Father, grant Me, Your servant to offer My life for this purpose. Grant Me to die after seeing Your Light and Your Justice on earth and after knowing that our Redemption has been accomplished. O Holy Father, send the Promise of the Prophets to the earth. Send the Redeemer to Your maidservant, so that in the hour of My death, Your abode may be opened to Me, as its gates have already been opened by Your Christ for all those who have hoped in You. Come, come, O Spirit of the Lord. Come to the faithful who are expecting You. Come, Prince of Peace!..." Mary remains absorbed thus...
The curtain moves fast, as if someone behind it ventilated it or shook it to draw it. And a pearl white light mixed with pure silver makes the slightly yellow walls clearer and makes the colours of the cloths brighter and Mary's raised face more spiritual. And in such light, while the curtain is still drawn on the mystery to be accomplished, the Archangel prostrates himself: the curtain no longer moves: it is hanging stiff against the doorposts like a wall separating the inside from the outside.
The Angel must necessarily take a human appearance. But it is a transhumanised appearance. Of what flesh is this beautiful and gleaming figure made? With what substance did God form it to make it perceptible to the senses of the Virgin? Only God can possess such substances and use them so perfectly. It is a face, a body, eyes, a mouth, hair and hands like ours. But they are not our dull matter. It is a light that has taken the colour of flesh, of eyes, hair, lips, a light that moves and smiles, looks and speaks.
"Hail, Mary, full of Grace, Hail!" The voice is a sweet arpeggio as of pearls thrown on a precious metal plate.
Mary is startled and lowers Her head. And She is even more startled when She sees the shining creature kneeling at about a metre from Her and looking at Her with infinite veneration, his hands crossed over his chest.
Mary jumps to Her feet and She squeezes against the wall. She turns pale and red alternately. Her face shows surprise and fear. She subconsciously presses Her hands against Her breast hiding them under Her large sleeves. She stoops, endeavouring to conceal Her body as much as possible. An attitude of gentle modesty.
"No. Do not fear. The Lord is with You! You are blessed amongst all women!"
But Mary continues to be afraid. Where has that extraordinary being come from? Is he a messenger of God or of the Deceiver?
"Do not fear, Mary!" repeats the Archangel. "I am Gabriel, the Angel of God. My Lord has sent me to You. Do not be afraid, because You have found grace in the eyes of God. And You will conceive and bear a Son and You will call Him “Jesus”: He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High (and such He will really be). And the Lord God will give Him the throne of His Ancestor David and He will rule over the House of Jacob forever, and His reign will have no end. Understand, o Holy Virgin loved by God, Daughter blessed by Him, called to be the Mother of His Son, what Son You will generate!" "How can this come about, since I do not know man? Perhaps the Lord God will no longer accept the offer of His maidservant and does not want Me a Virgin for His love?"
"Not by deed of man You will be a mother, Mary. You are the Eternal Virgin, the Holy Virgin of God. The Holy Spirit will come upon You and the power of the Most High will cover You with its shadow. So the Child born of You will be called Holy and Son of God. Our Lord God can do everything. Elizabeth, the barren one, in her old age has conceived a son who will be the Prophet of Your Son, and will prepare His ways. The Lord has removed her disgrace and her memory will remain amongst peoples together with Your name, as the name of her creature will be joined to the name of Your Holy Son, and until the end of centuries you will be called blessed, because of the grace of the Lord which has come to you both and particularly to You, by means of Whom Grace has come to all peoples. Elizabeth is in her sixth month and her burden lifts her to joy, and will lift her even more when she hears of Your joy. Nothing is impossible to the Lord, Mary, full of Grace. What shall I tell my Lord? Let no thought whatsoever disturb You. He will protect Your interests if You trust in Him. The world, Heaven, the Eternal Father are awaiting Your word!"
Mary crosses Her hands over Her breast and bowing down deeply, She says: "I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to Me."
The Angel shines out of joy. He kneels in adoration because he certainly sees the Spirit of God descend upon the Virgin bent down in assent, and he disappears without moving the curtain, but leaves it well drawn over the holy Mystery.