Simon Cotton sees how the call and the cross were closely intertwined for the BVM


In the Middle Ages, the calendar changed year at the Annunciation. This was a frequent subject of the mediaeval artist, for example on a misericorde at Tong (1: Salop). Here in addition to the usual subjects, Christ is shown crucified on a lily crucifix, the lily being the symbol of the Virgin Mary. In the Middle Ages, the Crucifixion was commonly believed to have occurred on March 25th.

In a number of church porches, such as Great Witchingham (Norfolk), the figures of the Virgin Mary (2) and the angel Gabriel (3). The scrolls may have borne texts from Luke 1: 26-35, such as “Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum” (“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee”) and “Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum” (“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”