The Solemnity of the Annunciation celebrates the coming of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to announce to her the special mission God had chosen for her in being the mother of His only son.
We are continually reminded of the importance of this feast to our salvation in various devotional prayers. Two examples that highlight the importance of this feast are the joyous mysteries of the Rosary and the Angelus.
The feast of the Annunciation began to be celebrated on this day during the fourth and fifth centuries, soon after the date for celebrating Christmas was universalized throughout the Church. This feast celebrates the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity and the salvation of all mankind. This point of our salvation was deeply discussed by many of the Church fathers, to explain it to the faithful and to show the deep love God has for us. Some of the Church fathers who wrote on this were St. Athanasius, St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Augustine.
St. Irene of Rome was the widow of the martyr Saint Castulus, a Roman military officer who was killed for spreading the Christian faith in 286. She lived in the Roman Empire during the reign of Diocletian, and died in 288.
According to legend, she attended to the wounded St. Sebastian after he was shot full of arrows as depicted in the painting by artist Vicente López y Portaña.
St. John Baptist de la Salle is known for promoting and reforming Christian education, especially amongst the poor. He is also the founder of the Institute of the Brothers of Christian Schools, which now teaches around the world.
The French priest was one of the first pedagogues to emphasize classroom teaching in the vernacular instead of in Latin. He also founded three teachers’ colleges and, in 1705, he established a reform school for boys at Dijon.
John was born in Rheims, France to a noble family of 10 children on April 30, 1651. He studied in Paris and was ordained in 1678. He died at St. Yon, Rouen on Good Friday, April 7, 1751. He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1900 and named patron of teachers by Pope Pius XII in 1950.