The Annunciation

12th or possibly 11th century
North transept, Church of St. Foy, Conques, France

In her left hand the Virgin Mary holds one end of the thread she has been spinning for the Temple curtain, and is handing it off to the person behind her (see detail below). A local guidebook refers to this person as a servant, but it may be the priest to whom she took the finished thread in the Protevangelium of James, paragraph 12.

In medieval iconography Mary's palm-out gesture is a conventional signifier of acceptance, in this case, the "be it done to me according to thy word" in Luke 1:38.

The scroll in the angel's left hand reads GABRIEL ANGELVS, "the Angel Gabriel." His right hand simply reaches toward Mary, neither raised to signify speech as in many Annunciation images nor configured in the blessing gesture as in most others.

There are no flowers, no water pot, no throne. Nearby, as part of a group with this sculpture, are figures of Isaiah and John the Baptist.

Read more about images of the Annunciation.

Both images photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.