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History of the “Hail Mary”


The “Hail Mary,” as we now recite it, dates from the year 1515; originally it consisted only of the salutations of the Archangel and St. Elizabeth. Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) ordered this primitive “Hail Mary” to be said at the offertory of the Mass on the fourth Sunday in Advent. There we find it as follows: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”

In the thirteenth century it was recited after the “Our Father” in the beginning of the divine office. Pope Urban IV, in 1263, added the holy name of Jesus after the scriptural sentence, as the devotion of the faithful introduced the name of Mary after the greeting.

The addition, “Holy Mary, pray for us sinners, Amen!” was made in 1508, and the Franciscans were accustomed to add to the Hail Mary, “hour of our death.” A few years later, Pius V showed his approval of the prayer, as we now have it, by allowing its insertion in the Roman Breviary.

From the time of the Crusades it became the custom to say the “Hail Mary every morning, noon, and night at the sound of the church bells.

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