He spent a good part of his early life in Florence decorating th Dominican Monastary of San Marco. In 1445, he was called by the church in Rome, leaving the completion of the San Marco frescos to his assistants. Before leaving for Rome however, he completed one of his most beautiful works in a nondescript upstairs cell that may have been his own in the San Marco Monastery. It's an Annunciation painted high on the wall against the vaulted ceiling of Cell No. 3. It's not a lavish rendition of the holy event but strikes us as deeply religious in its simplicity instead. Like the man who painted it, the scene can best be described as simply "holy". The angel Gabriel is positioned near the center of the arched composition, enlightening Mary of God's favor while off to the left, in one of several one-point perspective niches, stands Saint Dominic. The effect is that of a vision within a vision as Saint Dominic's prayers conjures up the vision of the angel and Mary and the whole painted scene is that of a vision seen by the occupant of the cell.
Legend has it that Fra Angelico very nearly became a saint. When called to Rome in 1445, Pope Eugene IV was in search of a new archbishop of Florence. He eventually chose the vicar of San Marco, Antonio Pierozzi. Two hundred years later, when Pierozzi was proposed for sainthood, it was revealed that the pope's FIRST choice as archbishop of Florence was Fra Angelico, but that the painter's humility caused him to decline and instead suggest Pierozzi for the post. That's unfortunate. We painters could use a patron saint.