March 18th 2023


“The Annunciation with St Emidius”,  1486, Carlo Crivelli. National Gallery, London.  Egg and oil on canvas, 207 x 146.7 cm Presented by Lord Taunton, 1864 NG739.

While at first glance all these ornate buildings and all the exquisitely rendered detail might be what catches the viewer’s attention, in this painting it is the people who tell the story.  In fact there are two stories.   There is the ancient story of the Annunciation, but there is another modern story which tells of how a Papal Bull arrived in the Marche city of Ascoli Piceno on the Feast of The Annunciation, 25th March 1482. It gave the city a greater degree of independence from the Papal States.  The bull’s title,  “Libertas Ecclesiastica“ is is lettered in gold at the base of the painting.  In the distance, above an archway you can see a man reading a message which he has just received by carrier pigeon.  Could this be the Papal Bull?  The Bishop in the foreground listening to the angel Gabriel is St Emidius, patron saint of Ascoli Piceno.  As they speak, a golden bolt of eternal light reaches down from heaven to the Virgin Mary and so she becomes the mother of the One in whom we will find salvation and our true freedom.  One man in the background notices something and looks up.  A little boy looks from across the street.  Everybody else is concerned with their new status.  The Bishop holds a scale model of the city , and no doubt is also concerned with its new status and independence, but perhaps the angel reminds him of what day it is and of his message to the young girl Mary, which concerned not just a city but the whole human race and that brings to each of us salvation and true freedom.  


Edinburgh Catholic Chaplaincy

The Catholic Chaplaincy serves the students and staff of the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University and Queen Margaret University.

The Catholic Chaplaincy is also a parish of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh (the Parish of St Albert the Great) and all Catholic students and staff are automatically members of this parish.

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