In 1921, just over 100 years ago, Pope Benedict XV inscribed the Feast of St Gabriel on 24 March. Later, in 1969, the day was transferred to 29 September, for inclusion with the other archangels St Michael and St Raphael.

It is fitting to spend a little time today reflecting on the role of the archangel Gabriel – the messenger bringing the news of the Incarnation to Our Lady. He appears also in the Old Testament, in the book of Daniel: ‘While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God; while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He came and he said to me, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you wisdom and understanding. At the beginning of your supplications a word went forth, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the word and understand the vision’.

‘You are greatly beloved …’ These words echo down the ages, to Mary, and down to our own times, and ourselves. May we truly believe this message of the archangel, that we are truly and greatly loved; and may this knowledge and awareness shape us in every way. May God bless you.