"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens." - J. R. R. Tolkien
March 25 is Lady Day, the day when the church commemorates the feast of the Annunciation. It was on this day that the archangel Gabriel proclaimed to the Virgin that she would conceive and bear a son nine months later. His name would be Emmanuel. True to the prophecy, nine months later on December 25th this came to pass.
The painting is a Neobyzantine depiction of the Annunciation. Although this is based on Byzantine models, it uses modern materials and techniques. Many modern icon painters use the traditional Byzantine composition and iconography, producing in faithful imitation these new icons. This occurs especially in many convents and monasteries where nuns and monks even today continue to paint in this traditional style. These are devotional representations that are used in churches and in private homes as focus for prayer and meditation.
Today is also the national day of Greece, which is a Southern European country surrounded by seas, the Aegean to the East, the Ionian to the West and the Cretan to the South. It gained its independence after more than 400 years subjugation to the Ottoman Empire in 1821. Traditionally, this day is celebrated as the beginning of the struggle for freedom, not the least reason being the association with the religious feast day of the Annunciation (Evangelismos in Greek, meaning “Good news”). Since then, Greece has had a history of political upheavals.
It is a country of islands and mountains, hot dry summers and cool to mild winters. The fertile plains are few, most of the land being poorly watered and drained, and too rocky or mountainous for farming. Greece, nevertheless is one of the world’s largest producers of olives and olive oil with other agricultural produce also being exported to the rest of Europe. It has an area of about 132,000 square km and a population of about 11 million. Athens is the capital city with other major centres being Thessaloniki, Patras, Volos, Larissa, Iraklion and Kavalla. Tourism is a major economic boost but the clothing and footwear industries also contribute.