On March 25 the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Annunciation. It is the biblical event we remember with the first Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary. The Annunciation commemorates the meeting between the angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary, the day when St. Gabriel announced to her that she would conceive a Child by the Holy Spirit.
This feast is incredibly special because it is the moment that changed the world. It is the day of Mary's great fiat and the day the Church celebrates the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, exactly nine months before the celebration of his birth on December 25.
ST. GABRIEL IN THE BIBLESt. Gabriel the Archangel is found three times by name in the Catholic Bible, once in the Old Testament, and twice in the New Testament.
In the Old Testament St. Gabriel appeared to Daniel and foretold the time of the Messiah's coming. In the New Testament, St. Gabriel was first sent to Zechariah to announce the birth of St. John the Baptist, who was to prepare the way of the Lord. He was next sent to the Virgin Mary to announce the birth of Jesus. All three of St. Gabriel's appearances in the Bible have a common thread, the annunciation of the coming of the Messiah.
WHO IS ST. GABRIEL?According to Church tradition St. Gabriel is one of the seven archangels, and one of only three angels mentioned by name in the Catholic Bible (the others are St. Michael and St. Raphael).
St. Gabriel is also thought to have been the angel who appeared to St. Joseph, and the herald angel who announced Jesus' birth to the shepherds on Christmas night (even though Scripture is silent on the names of these angels).
If this is true, then St. Gabriel appears five times in the Bible, and possibly a sixth: Because of St. Gabriel's special role of announcing the Messiah, he is also believed to be the archangel who will announce the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time, as prophesied in this Bible verse:
“For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first." (1 Thes. 4:16)
ST. GABRIEL AT THE ANNUNCIATIONThe passage in the Catholic Bible where we find St. Gabriel as the special messenger of the good news of the Incarnation is in the first chapter of Luke (all quotations taken from the New American Bible):
"The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary."
"And coming to her, he said, 'Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you! . . . Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.'"
"He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High . . . The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."And Mary's great response to St. Gabriel, her “yes” to God, our example of humility and perfect submission to God's will:
"Mary said, 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.' Then the angel [St. Gabriel] departed from her."
THE ANNUNCIATION: A CELEBRATION OF JESUS & MARYThe Feast of the Annunciation should be a special day for each of us, our hearts overflowing with gratitude as we celebrate the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity—when Jesus Christ entered space and time, taking on human flesh in order to reconcile us to God.
It is also a day to think of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our model of virtue and great intercessor in heaven, who was created Immaculate for this moment when she would become the Mother of God.
It is also a day to remember the great herald angel of good tidings, the Archangel Gabriel. The name "Gabriel" means, “man of God” or “God has shown himself mighty,” a very appropriate angel for God to send as the messenger of the Incarnation!
The Annunciation has been a favorite subject for many Catholic artists, St. Gabriel being the angel depicted in many famous renditions of Annunciation Art. There are also many prayers to St. Gabriel, including novenas and litanies (see below).
St. Gabriel, pray for us on this special day, the Feast of the Annunciation, and announce to the world anew the coming of Christ!
LITANY TO ST. GABRIEL THE ARCHANGELLord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary , Queen of Angels, pray for us.Saint Gabriel, glorious Archangel, pray for us.St. Gabriel, strength of God, pray for us.St. Gabriel, who stands before the throne of God, pray for us.St. Gabriel, model of prayer, pray for us.St. Gabriel, herald of the Incarnation, pray for us.St. Gabriel, who revealed the glories of Mary, pray for us.St. Gabriel, Prince of Heaven, pray for us.St. Gabriel, ambassador of the Most High, pray for us.St. Gabriel, guardian of the Immaculate Virgin, pray for us.St. Gabriel, who foretold the greatness of Jesus, pray for us.St. Gabriel, peace and light of souls, pray for us.St. Gabriel, scourge of unbelievers, pray for us.St. Gabriel, admirable teacher, pray for us.St. Gabriel, strength of the just, pray for us.St. Gabriel, protector of the faithful, pray for us.St. Gabriel, first adorer of the Divine Word, pray for us.St. Gabriel, defender of the Faith, pray for us.St. Gabriel, zealous for the honor of Jesus Christ, pray for us.St. Gabriel, whom the Scriptures praise as the Angel sent by God to Mary, the Virgin, pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,Spare us, O Lord.Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,Graciously hear us, O Lord.Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,Have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.Christ, graciously hear us.
V. Pray for us, blessed Archangel Gabriel,R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.
Let Us Pray: O blessed Archangel Gabriel, we beseech thee, intercede for us at the throne of Divine Mercy in our present necessities, that as thou didst announce to Mary the mystery of the Incarnation, so through thy prayers and patronage in Heaven we may obtain the benefits of the same, and sing the praise of God forever in the land of the living. Amen.
This article has been updated and was originally published in March 2012. © The Catholic Company. All rights reserved.