The annunciation. Fra Angelico. 1430. Museo Diocesano, Cortona. (below) The history of the true cross (annunciation panel), Piero della Francesca.
Matins [Latin matutinus, of the morning] is the longest and most complex of the daily services. It is traditionally observed before sunrise and is the last of the four night watches [Compline, Vespers, Midnight Office].
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
Luke 1:28 - 32 [KJV]
The story of the annunciation describes the visitation of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. In this story, the angel is sent by God to Nazareth to give Mary the news of the impending virgin birth. The annunciation is a popular motif in Christian art and is associated with the office of Matins in The little office of the blessed Virgin Mary.