Feast of the Annunciation 2024: Novena, Prayers and More

Feast of the Annunciation: Table of Contents

The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord commemorates the angel Gabriel’s appearance to the Virgin Mary.

The word “Annunciation” might look similar to an English word that is more common: announce. 

The Annunciation refers to the announcement of the Incarnation–that God would become man in the form of Jesus, born to Mary. It also refers to Mary’s fiat–her yes to God.

It is one of the single most important moments in the history of human salvation. It has been celebrated in Scripture and art across centuries and remains an important Marian feast, along with the Feast of the Assumption and Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Biblical Roots

We learn of the Annunciation in the beginning of the Gospel of Luke (1:26), which tells us how the angel Gabriel, sent from God, visits Mary.

Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33)

The words and imagery are so rich and beautiful that some scholars suggest that Luke somehow witnessed the Annunciation himself.

“Reading the story of the Annunciation to Mary,” writes Eugene LaVerdiere, SSS in The Annunciation of Mary: A Story of Faith,  “we have the impression that Luke personally must have seen the Annunciation as in a vision or dream, and must have reflected on it for a long time before writing it down.”

These words and those that follow provide the basis for the Hail Mary prayer. The Annunciation itself is the first Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.


Gary Waller, author of “A Cultural Study of Mary and the Annunciation,” traces the observance of the Annunciation on March 25 to the seventh century, while other sources point to the fourth or fifth century as the time when Annunciation celebrations began overall.

In the centuries since, it’s continued to represent an important day in the Church calendar, though it’s no longer a Holy Day of Obligation in most places.

Pope Benedict celebrated the role of the Annunciation in our faith in his 2006 Annunciation day homily.

“The icon of the Annunciation, more than any other, helps us to see clearly how everything in the Church goes back to that mystery of Mary’s acceptance of the divine Word, by which, through the action of the Holy Spirit, the Covenant between God and humanity was perfectly sealed,” he said.

Annunciation in Art 

Artwork depicting the Annunciation is perhaps as old as the event itself.

According to Waller, Luke himself was an artist, and believed by many to be the first person to create an icon of Mary. In fact, this article by Aleteia explores four icons of Mary attributed to St. Luke.

Waller believes that pictorial representations of the Annunciation date back perhaps to the third century A.D. 

Many scholars point to the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome as playing host to the first artistic representation of the Annunciation.

In the centuries that followed, the Annunciation remained a popular subject of art.

“The Annunciation is among the most consistently depicted subjects in medieval iconography; it is found in everything from early Christian catacombs and sculpted facades to books of hours, mosaics, and panel paintings,” said Pamela Patton of the Art and Archaeology Department at the University of Princeton.

Annunciation Prayers 

The Annunciation Novena is a popular prayer that traditionally begins nine days before March 25, on March 17.

The Knights of Columbus called on members to pray the Annunciation novena in 2022 as a call for peace in Ukraine.

I greet you, Ever-blessed Virgin, Mother of God, Throne of Grace, miracle of Almighty Power! I greet you, Sanctuary of the Most Holy Trinity and Queen of the Universe, Mother of Mercy and refuge of sinners!Most loving Mother, attracted by your beauty and sweetness, and by your tender compassion, I confidently turn to you, miserable as I am, and beg of you to obtain for me from your dear Son the favor I request in this novena:(Mention your petitions here)Obtain for me also, Queen of heaven, the most lively contrition for my many sins and the grace to imitate closely those virtues which you practiced so faithfully, especially humility, purity, and obedience. Above all, I beg you to be my Mother and Protectress, to receive me into the number of your devoted children, and to guide me from your high throne of glory. Do not reject my petitions, Mother of Mercy! Have pity on me, and do not abandon me during life or at the moment of my death. Amen.

The Annunciation is also a great time to pray the Hail Mary or the Rosary. 

As Pope Francis reminded us in a December 2021 homily, the Annunciation can also be a time to call to mind others, as Mary selflessly did

“The Virgin does not stay at home, thinking over what has happened…..On the contrary, she first thinks of someone in need; instead of being absorbed in her own problems, she thinks about someone in need, she thinks about Elizabeth, her relative, who was advanced in years and with child.”

Frequently Asked Questions about The Annunciation

When is the Annunciation? 

The Annunciation typically takes place on March 25, nine months before Christmas. When it falls during Holy Week, it is usually moved, as in 2024, with an April 8th observance.

Why is the Annunciation celebrated on March 25?

March 25 represents nine months prior to the date we celebrate Jesus’s birth.

How is the Feast of the Annunciation celebrated? 

On the Annunciation, Marian prayers are especially popular. The USCCB encourages people to reach out to those expecting children and pray for all expectant mothers and unborn children.

What’s the difference between the Annunciation and the Immaculate Conception?

The Annunciation refers to Gabriel visiting Mary, announcing that Jesus would be conceived and born to Mary. The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary’s conception and the dogma that Mary was born without original sin, so that she could give birth to Christ.

How old was Mary at the Annunciation?

We don’t know for sure, but most scholars believe she was probably around 13.

More Resources

Pin It on Pinterest