Mary is fourteen years, six months and seventeen days old today. Wearing a plain white dress, She is sitting on a stool by a bookcase in a small rectangular room that opens, through a curtained door, onto Her kitchen garden. The room is modestly furnished- like a cell- but it is scrupulously tidy. There are some clothes, neatly folded on a low bed on the opposite wall. The bed is covered in mats laid on woven, stiff cane trellis but without a bedstead.
On the bookcase is an oil lamp, some rolls of parchment and some embroidery needlework carefully folded. Next to the lamp is a copper pitcher with a pear branch with pinkish white flowers.
Mary is spinning beautiful snow white, silky soft linen, Her beautiful face slightly bent forward, at peace, smiling gently at a sweet thought
It’ s six O’clock on a Thursday at the approach of night. Everywhere in the little house, kitchen garden and surrounds, silence reigns.
Mary begins to sing a song of praise in Hebrew, Her voice, at first a mere whisper and then rises slowly. With the song, comes a happy memory and She lays Her hands in Her lap, still holding the yarn and spindle, and leans back against the wall. Her eyes are smiling and distant and glistening with tears that well up and threaten to overflow. Her hair in braids rolled up around Her head like a crown, frames Her beautiful face that is flushed and emerges from her white dress like a flower.
‘Most High God’ She prays ‘ 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…to die after seeing Your light and Your Justice on earth…after knowing that our Redemption has been accomplished…so that in the hour of my death, Your abode may be opened to Me…Come, Prince of Peace!…’
The curtain trembles and a pearl white silvery light brightens up the room and everything in it and alights on Mary’s uplifted face giving it a spiritual glow. Then the curtain becomes still and stiff like a wall.
The light has the form of a squadron of men led by a young man, a youth of rarest beauty, whose face emits light. He has eyes, a mouth, lips that speak and smile, a body and hair and hands. But his skin is not dull like a man’s; it glows like light that has taken on flesh. He wears an exquisite jewelled coronet on his head and his garment sparkles and radiates beautiful multi-coloured light. And woven into the breast of his garment is a most beautiful cross, a symbol of the mystery he heralds. He carries himself with great composure and majestic gravity and he advances and prostrates himself before Mary.
‘Hail, Mary, full of Grace, Hail!’ says the archangel in a clear musical chime like the sound of pearls on precious metal
Startled, Mary lowers Her head and is even more surprised on seeing the shining creatures kneeling barely a meter away from Her, with their hands crossed over their chests. She jumps to Her feet and squeezes against the wall, Her face shows surprise and fear, alternately turning pale, then red. Involuntarily, She presses Her hands against Her breasts, hiding them beneath Her large sleeves stooping to conceal Her body in an attitude of gentle modesty.
‘…Do not fear. The Lord is with You! You are blessed amongst all women!’
But Mary is still afraid
‘Do not fear Mary!’ says the angel again ‘ 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 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!’