Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany/The Bridgeman Art Library, NY

“Hail mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum) reads the scroll that unfurls around Mary’s head in a 14th-century Annunciation by Master Bertram of Minden (shown here). The Infancy Gospel of James’s detailed Annunciation account explains that Mary will be impregnated by God’s Word: “Do not fear, Mary; for you have found grace before the Lord of all things and shall conceive by his Word.” In paintings, scrolls or an open Bible commonly symbolized the Word.