Ecce Ancilla Domini! (Behold the Lord's Servant).
 Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 1828-1882

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Title:Ecce Ancilla Domini! (Behold the Lord's Servant)

Gabriel's announcement of the coming Messiah is a cause for joyful celebration for Christians. But what would Mary, likely just a teenager, have thought about Gabriel’s message?

Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Ecce Ancilla Domini! captures the moment just after Gabriel has delivered his message. Mary’s posture and expression reveal her doubt and perhaps even her fear. The text from Luke uses language that supports this depiction of Mary’s hesitation. Gabriel must tell her not to be afraid; Mary questions how this can even happen; and Luke describes Mary as perplexed. Rossetti paints a Virgin who is uncertain and afraid, perhaps fearing for her life when Joseph discovers she is pregnant. This frightened teenager’s world has just been turned upside down, and we can understand her anxiety. Mary must have been terrified when Gabriel showed up with this life-changing news.

Whatever thoughts, fears, and emotions Mary experiences, Luke reminds us what her response is: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” She accepts her destiny as the mother of Jesus. This is the joyful moment we have all been waiting for, but we cannot jump right to the outcome and skip over the moment of pause. Mary is chosen by God for the task of bearing His Son and does so willingly, and she is also a person with real human emotions, doubts, and fears. If we neglect to recognize her strength and faith in spite of everything, we lose our connection with Mary. We all have fears and doubts and are called by God to have strength and faith in spite of them. Rossetti’s Mary is a human: someone we can celebrate, someone we can relate to, and someone whose faith we can emulate. ~ Maggie Jarrell

Artist:Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 1828-1882
Building:Tate Britain (Gallery)
Country:Great Britain

Scripture:Luke 1:26-56
Lectionary links:BAdvt04
General Subject:Annunciation to Mary

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Copyright Source:Wikimedia Commons
Copyright Permission:This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial ShareAlike 3.0 License. In short: you are free to use and to share the file for non-commercial purposes under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license compatible with this one. For uses other than the above, contact the Divinity Library at
Attribution:Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 1828-1882. Ecce Ancilla Domini! (Behold the Lord's Servant), from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved May 30, 2020]. Original source: Wikimedia Commons.
Record Number:54125 Last Updated: 2020-02-08 16:41:54 Record Created: 2009-01-05 12:48:46
Institution:Vanderbilt University Unit: Collection: Art in the Christian Tradition