A chance viewing of a picture hanging in London’s National Gallery inspired Mark Byford’s book The Annunciation: A Pilgrim’s Quest. The early-eighteenth-century painting by French artist, François Lemoyne, on loan from Winchester College, depicts the encounter between angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary. That meeting may be a pivotal point in Christianity, but has the status and significance of the Annunciation been lost in today’s world? 

Award-winning journalist Mark Byford searches for the spiritual meaning of the biblical story through intimate conversations with more than a hundred senior clerics, world-renowned theologians, historians and artists. They speak as never before about the personal and profound impact that the annunciation story has had on their lives. It is a project of monumental scale, ambition and innovation, highly distinctive in its originality of approach and content.

Alongside the searching conversations, he traces the history of the annunciation story in Christianity as he travels around England, across the Continent and to the Holy Land, to stand before some of the greatest ever works of art. Byford’s three-year journey ends by revealing how the encounters have shaped his current beliefs and understanding.

Mark Byford talks about his book, Thursday 5 March at 6.30pm in New Hall.


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