Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Annunciation Lily

Upcoming on March 25 is the feast of the Annunciation.  The Archangel Gabriel's encounter with Our Lady at the time of her fiat has inspired countless works of art.  In an Annunciation painting by Giovanni Bellini, a detail of which is shown above, Gabriel presents Mary with a lilium candidum, commonly known as the Madonna Lily -- and also as the Annunciation Lily.

Many sources describe the lily as signifying the Virgin's freedom from sin and so it does.  But, interestingly,  some see the lily as also standing for Our Lord's purity, such that the Archangel is symbolically giving Our Lord to the Blessed Mother when he presents her with the flower.

One should also note that in Bellini's lovely painting Archangel Gabriel is wearing a crown of olive.  Olive branches signify peace -- the peace brought by Our Lord's incarnation.  And, as I noted in my post Silence, Annunciation, Incarnation, which features a painting by Simone Martini, the crown of olives is the crown of the Holy Ghost.

Image:  Detail from Bellini's Annunciation.  From Wikimedia Commons.  In the public domain.

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