"And the Angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.... Through me all the heavenly powers hail thee, the holy Virgin: yea rather, He Himself, who is the Lord of all the heavenly powers and of all creation, hath chosen and preferred thee as the holy one and altogether fair; that from thy holy, chaste, pure, and spotless womb the enlightening Pearl may come forth for the salvation of the whole world: since of all the race of man thou art by birth the holy one, the one more honourable, more pure, and more pious than any other; and a soul thou hast whiter than the snow, and a body purer than any gold, howsoever fine; and a womb such as was the object of Ezechiel's vision, which he speaks of as the likeness of the firmament, as the appearance of crystal terrible to behold; the likeness of a throne; as the appearance of the sapphire-stone, and upon the likeness of the throne, was a likeness as of the appearance of a Man above upon it. And I saw, as it were, the resemblance of amber, as the appearance of the fire within it round about: from his loins and upward, and from his loins downward, I saw as it were the resemblance of fire shining round about. As the appearance of the rainbow when it is in a cloud on a rainy day: this was the appearance of the brightness round about.*

"And with what words of laudation then, shall we tell forth her virgin dignity, her stainless form? With what spiritual canticles or speech shall we honour her who is most glorious among the angels? She is planted in the house of God like a fruitful olive+ that the Holy Ghost overshadowed; and by her means are we called sons and heirs of the kingdom of Christ. She is the ever-blooming paradise of incorruptibility, wherein is planted the tree that giveth life,++ and that bringeth forth, for all, the fruits of immortality. She is the glory and boast of virgins, and the exultation of mothers. She is the sure support of the faithful, and the succour (or example, katorthoma) of the devout. She is the vesture of light, and the home of virtue (or truth). She is the monument of justice and sanctity: and all who become lovers of her, and set their affections on virgin-like ingenuousness, shall enjoy the grace of angels.

"For since the holy Virgin, in the life of the flesh, was in possession of the incorruptible citizenship, and walked as such in all manner of virtues, and lived a life more excellent than man's common standard; therefore the Word, who cometh from God the Father, thought it meet to assume flesh and endue Himself therewith as perfect Man from her, that by the self-same flesh, wherein sin had entered into the world, and death by sin, sin might be condemned in the flesh, and that the tempter to sin might be overcome in the burying of the holy body, and that therewith also the beginning of the resurrection might be shown forth, and life eternal instituted in the world, and fellowship established for men with God the Father....

Hail, then, thou that art full of grace! for through thee joy is decreed for the whole creation, and the human race receives again through thee its pristine dignity....

And the holy Mother of God kept these words and pondered them in her heart, as one who was the receptacle of all the mysteries.

* Ezech. i. 22, 26-28.

+ Ps. li. 10.

++ Apoc. ii. 7.



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