“‘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.’” — Luke 1:30-31
Observed on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation celebrates how the angel Gabriel brought Mary the news that she would bear the Savior. Mary responded with unhesitating trust in God’s providence: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
As we reflect on her example of humility and obedience, we invite you to explore how the Annunciation is portrayed in the art of the Basilica.
The Annunciation Chapel
The Annunciation Chapel in the Great Upper Church portrays the Annunciation in shimmering gold mosaic tile alongside the other Joyful Mysteries. This moment is depicted with the Old Testament parallel of Moses and the burning bush, where Moses is charged with saving his people. The text in the chapel reads, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” from John 1:14, highlighting how God came to save us just as He called Moses to save the Israelites.
The Rosary Walk and Garden depicts all the mysteries of the Rosary, including the Annunciation, in vibrant blue and gold mosaic. Dressed in white, Mary bows her head before the angel Gabriel as he raises a hand to bless her.
In the South Façade, the Annunciation is portrayed in ornately carved marble relief. Arched above the scene is the text, “O Mary Immaculate, be thou our mother,” while below are the words of the angel Gabriel, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.”
Measuring 3,708 square feet, the Incarnation Dome mosaic depicts four events related to Jesus’ incarnation: the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Wedding Feast at Cana, and the Transfiguration. The base of the dome is encircled with the passage from John 1:14:
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and of truth.
Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel
One of the oldest and most beloved Marian traditions, Our Mother of Perpetual Help dates back to 1495. The chapel at the Basilica features a mosaic reproduction of the icon, while above, a stained glass window portrays the Annunciation, along with the words of the angel Gabriel: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.”
Rohling, Geraldine M. , PhD, MAEd. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: Guide and Tour Book. Washington, D.C.: Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 2018.