Photo by Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana

A step-by-step guide to the Annunciation is provided in these illuminations from an 11th-century manuscript of sermons. Many of the details shown here are borrowed from a once-popular, mid-second-century account of the Annunciation found in the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of James, which fills in many of the gaps in Luke’s spare account.

Luke sets the Annunciation in Nazareth, but isn’t more specific. In the Infancy Gospel of James, the event takes place in (and just outside) Joseph’s home. Mary has been spinning purple thread for the priests in the Jerusalem Temple when she goes out to a well, where Gabriel first appears and greets her (shown here, left); she then goes back inside the home (shown here, right), where she is approached again by the angel and told of her auspicious mission (see photo of next detail).