The Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (25 March), also called in old calendars: FESTUM INCARNATIONIS, INITIUM REDEMPTIONIS CONCEPTIO CHRISTI, ANNUNTIATIO CHRISTI, ANNUNTIATIO DOMINICA. In the Orient, where the part which Mary took in the Redemption is celebrated by a special feast, 26 December, the Annunciation is a feast of Christ; in the Latin Church, it is a feast of Mary. It probably originated shortly before or after the council of Ephesus (c. 431). At the time of the Synod of Laodicea (372) it was not known; St. Proclus, Bishop of Constantinople (d. 446), however, seems to mention it in one of his homilies. He says, that the feast of the coming of Our Lord and Saviour, when He vested Himself with the nature of man (quo hominum genus indutus), was celebrated during the entire fifth century. This homily, however, may not be genuine, or the words may be understood of the feast of Christmas.
|• Date: March 25, unless that date falls on a Sunday in Lent or at any time during Holy Week. (See Stand By for an Important Announcement for more details.) See When Is the Annunciation? to find the day of the week that the Annunciation falls on in this and future years.|
|• Type of Feast: Solemnity. (See Is Annunciation a Holy Day of Obligation? for more details.)|
|• Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10; Psalm 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38 (full text here)|
|• Prayers: The Hail Mary; The Angelus|
|• Other Names for the Feast: The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary|
History of the Annunciation of the Lord:
Originally a feast of our Lord, but now celebrated as a Marian feast, the feast of the Annunciation dates back at least to the fifth century, and the date of the feast, which is determined by the date of Christmas, was set at March 25 by the seventh century.
The Annunciation, as much as or even more so than Christmas, represents Christ’s Incarnation. When Mary signaled to Gabriel her acceptance of God’s Will, Christ was conceived in her womb through the power of the Holy Spirit. While most of the Fathers of the Church say that Mary’s fiat was essential to God’s plan of salvation, God foresaw Mary’s acceptance of His Will from all eternity.
The narrative of the Annunciation testifies powerfully to the truth of the Catholic tradition that Mary was indeed a virgin when Christ was conceived, but also that she intended to remain one perpetually. Mary’s response to Gabriel—”How shall this be done, because I know not man?” (Luke 1:34) was universally interpreted by the Fathers of the Church as a statement of the Mary’s resolution to remain a virgin forever.