The Annunciation: Lectio Divina Using Images from Chartres

This may be a familiar story. Imagine that this is the first time you are hearing or seeing it. Listen and look with attentiveness and curiosity. Use this page as the visual focus of your prayer, or if you are at Chartres, you can find one of these annunciation images in the cathedral and use the lectio divina (Latin for holy reading) format as you gaze at that one image.
Silent Prayer

Use the silence to prepare yourself. You may wish to include,”God, I’m listening, help me to hear.”

First Reading/Viewing of the Text: Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 

The Annunciation, West (12th century)

But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

Mary at the Annunciation (13th century)

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

Gabriel and Mary (13th century) North Porch

And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 

The Annunciation in the Life of Mary Window

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 

The Annunciation, Piat Chapel

The angel said to her, “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 holy; he will be called Son of God.  36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.For nothing will be impossible with God.” 

Apsidal image of the Annunciation, 13th century

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

Mary, Annunciation 13th century

Then the angel departed from her.

Silent Prayer

Use the silence to let the words and images of the story go deeper inside of you.

Second Reading/Viewing of the Text: Luke 1:26-38

Go back to the words and images above. As you make your way slowly through them, imagine that you are living the story. Pick a character (Mary or Gabriel) or an inanimate object that would have been present during this story and imagine yourself as that person or object. Feel what they might have been feeling. Smell what they might have been smelling. The more in tune you are with your senses and emotions, the more deeply the story will unfold within you.

Silent Prayer

Use the silence to stay with the experience and continue to let it develop. Identify three to ten words that express what happened.

Third Reading/Viewing of the Text: Luke 1:26-38

Listen and look for what the Spirit is communicating to you through this story.

Short silence followed by a short mental or verbal prayer in response.

Extended Period of Silent Contemplation and Meditation: The Great Silence (Ten to thirty minutes)

Closing Prayer

Give thanks for what you have experienced.

Mary, Annunciation sculpture outside the Vendome Chapel


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