Luke 1:26-31 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.”
Many may consider themselves familiar with the story of the Annunciation to Mary narrated in the Gospel According to St. Luke, but in the history of Christian art it has been seen that illustrations of the Annunciation frequently exhibit motifs detailed in the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal Gospel outside of the Canon of the New Testament. Appearing early in the fourth century, the Protoevangelium of James is regarded as a historical source of many details of Mary's life, including the names of her parents and the story of her birth. According to James, Mary is among eight virgins summoned by the council of high priests to sew a veil for the temple of the Lord. Mary is chosen to spin the purple and scarlet wool, and returns to her home with Joseph to spin the cloth. At her home she goes out to fetch water and hear the voice of the angel call, “Hail, thou who hast received grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women!” The passage follows:
And she looked round, on the right hand and on the left, to see whence this voice came. And she went away, trembling, to her house, and put down the pitcher; and taking the purple, she sat down on her seat, and drew it out. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood before her, saying: Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found grace before the Lord of all, and thou shalt conceive, according to His word.
The Annunciation is then described as in the account of Luke. Historically, feasts in commemoration of the Virgin Mary began around the fifth century in Constantinople. The inspiration attributed to the Protoevangelium of James. Condemned by Popes Damasus (reigned 366–384) and Innocent I (reigned 401–417), the accounts took up until the eleventh century to appear in Western theological writing.