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4. The Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary.

Six months after the appearance of the angel to Zacharias, the Archangel Gabriel was sent by God to the city of Nazareth to the Holy Virgin Mary with the glorious news that the Lord had chosen Her to be the mother of the Saviour of the world.

The Archangel appeared in the home of the righteous Joseph while Mary was reading the Holy Scriptures. He came to Her and said, "Rejoice, who art full of grace (that is, filled with the grace of God ó the gift of the Holy Spirit), the Lord is with Thee: blessed art Thou among women."

Mary was troubled by the words of the angel and thought: what manner of salutation could this be?

The Archangel said to Her, "Fear not, Mary; for Thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, Thou shalt conceive in Thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and He shall reign for ever."

Mary in bewilderment asked the Archangel, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?"

The angel answered Her that all this would be accomplished by the power of Almighty God. "The Holy Spirit shall come over Thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow Thee; therefore also that Holy One, which shall be born of Thee, shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, Thy cousin Elizabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible."

Then, Mary with humility said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto Me according to thy word."

And the Archangel Gabriel departed from Her.

The Annunciation of the Holy Virgin is celebrated by the Holy Orthodox Church on the 25th of March (7th of April, NS). The Feast of the Annunciation is one of the greatest feasts. The words annunciation news (in Russian and Greek means "good news" or "joyful tidings") are that the emancipation of man from sin and eternal death has begun.

Troparion of the Feast.

Today is the fountainhead of our salvation, and the manifestation of the mystery which was from eternity. The Son of God becometh the Virginís Son, and Gabriel proclaimeth the good tidings of grace; wherefore, we also cry to the Theotokos with him: Rejoice, Thou who art full of grace! The Lord is with Thee.

Note: See the Gospel of Luke 1:26-38.

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