Posted in anticipation for the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25.
The visit of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin is depicted on a hardwood relief. Located on the first level second frame from the left of the main retablo in Silang, the relief highlights the scene of a divine encounter. As prayed in the Angelus, “the angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, two figures dominate the space. On the left, Mary, in a seating position is seemingly reading a book when the angel appeared. This rendition of a “reading Mary ” scene is typical of the period. Dressed in rose tunic with decorated collar and blue cloak, the image holds an open book on the table with her left hand while the right points closer to her heart. Though surprised, she wholeheartedly accepted the mission to be the bearer of God.
In contrast, the figure of Gabriel on the right side of the composition is dressed in immaculate white. Wearing a loose undecorated tunic, the gown has a hidden girdle given the cuts in the waist area. The angel holds a lily, a symbol of Mary’s physical and spiritual purity. Gabriel enters the room hovering on clouds and appeasing the startled Mary.
The interior showcases two furniture types. The chair, though executed in simple brown, seems grand given the backrest style of the period complete with decorative side finials. The more ornate curtain above Mary opens gracefully welcoming “the promises of Christ”. This is attached to a tasseled curtain dome hanging from an abstracted ceiling with wooden beams.
Above the two figures is the Holy Spirit depicted as a white dove surrounded by light and whirls of clouds done in Chinese-style.
The overall scene is typical of 16th-century artwork renditions of the Annunciation in Europe as the sculpture is probably patterned from engravings prescribed by the friars of the period. But the execution was done in oriental style given the features of the characters portrayed and other elements in the composition.
Other notes on the Anunciata…
It was believed that the image found in 1640 as accounted in Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde’s Historia de la Provincia de Philipinas de Compaña de Jesus is an Anunciata.
The fourth and the smallest bell of Silang was named “NSTRA SRA. DE ANUNCIATA Año DE 1916”. This would often be used for the highest note of festive ringing. The largest bell
often produces the lowest deep tone intended for mourning. The last three bells have a
yugo or yoke of hardwood acting as a counterweight for continued pealing of joyous
The street directly in front of the church door is called Calle Anunciata in old maps of Silang. This is now Madlansacay Street.
In late 19th century up to the early years of 1900s, the parish of Silang is called Nuestra Senora de Anunciata. This can be seen on the book La Virgen Maria Venerada en Sus
Imagenes Filipinas in UST Library. The book was published in 1904.