Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Annunciation

Around the top of the North wall of the Lady Chapel the text of the 'Hail Mary' can be seen. This wonderful prayer is easily rushed through, and yet the words are very powerful. Gabriel's words to Mary at the Annunciation open a new chapter in the life of God's people. Mary humbly accepts God's will and her 'Yes' reverses Eve's 'No'. With Mary's grace filled 'Yes' our salvation is on the way. Mary's reward will be her crowning as Queen of Heaven, when she is seated at her risen Son's right hand in heaven. The Monogram 'MR' at the top of the picture mounted by the crown tells us she is 'Maria Regina' - Mary is Queen.

This painting, and all the painting in the Cathedral, was part of the 1995 of reordering of the Cathedral and was carried out by Bernard Watson of Preston. ( Sadly, there has been some damage to the paint work in the Lady Chapel due to water ingress; we hope one day to restore the fine paintwork.

In Latin 'Ave' literally reverse 'Eva' (Eve). The ancient hymn, the Ave Maris stella... is a fine poem for us to meditate on:

HAIL, O Star of the ocean,
God's own Mother blest,
ever sinless Virgin,
gate of heav'nly rest.
Taking that sweet ‘Ave,’
which from Gabriel came,
peace confirm within us,
changing Eve's name.
Break the sinners' fetters,
make our blindness day,
Chase all evils from us,
for all blessings pray.
Show thyself a Mother,
may the Word divine
born for us thine Infant
hear our prayers through thine.
Virgin all excelling,
mildest of the mild,
free from guilt preserve us
meek and undefiled.
Keep our life all spotless,
make our way secure
till we find in Jesus,
joy for evermore.
Praise to God the Father,
honour to the Son,
in the Holy Spirit,
be the glory one. Amen.