Prayers & Devotions
Maria - Hail Mary
Annunciation Fra Angelico - fresco from San Marco, Florence (detail)
"Hail Mary, full of grace: The Lord is with thee."
"Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to thy word."
Prayer in communion with Mary, the Mother of God
The Ave Maria (Hail Mary) prayer comes from the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke: the "Angelic salutation" of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, "Hail, thou that art highly favored; the Lord is with thee" [Luke 1:28], announcing that she was to become the mother of the Son of God, and from Elizabeth's greeting to her cousin, "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!" and "Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" [Luke 1:42, 43]. Then follows Mary's exultant hymn of praise, the Magnificat, also called the Canticle of Mary [Luke 1:46-55].
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that "In prayer the Holy Spirit unites us to the person of the only Son, in His glorified humanity, through which and in which our filial prayer unites us in the Church with the Mother of Jesus (c.f. Acts 1:14)" [CCC 2673].
"Beginning with Mary's unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the holy Mother of God, centering it on the person of Christ manifested in His mysteries. In countless hymns and antiphons expressing this prayer, two movements usually alternate with one another: the first 'magnifies' the Lord for the 'great things' He did for His lowly servant and through her for all human beings (Cf. Luke 1:46-55)" [CCC 2675].
The Catechism's section, "The Way of Prayer" (Part Four, Chapter Two, "The Tradition of Prayer" - 2663-2682) gives other fruitful instruction, and explains the significance of the Ave Maria or "Hail Mary" prayer (2676, 2677).
For many centuries, the Ave Maria has formed a significant part of the Rosary, and is repeated while meditating on the "mysteries" of the Rosary. It also is the centerpiece of the Angelus. The Ave Maria has a plainchant musical setting, and the Latin words have been set to music by many of the world's great composers.
The Memorare (Remember) is a long-beloved personal prayer of petition for Mary's intercession. The Catechism observes that "Mary is the perfect Orans (prayer), a figure of the Church. When we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends His Son to save all men. Like the beloved disciple, we welcome Jesus' mother into our homes, for she has become the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope" [CCC 2679].
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Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
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Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help or sought your intercession, was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions,
but, in your mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.
Memoráre, o piíssima Virgo María,
non esse audítum a sæculo,
quemquam ad tua curréntem præsídia,
tua implorántem auxília,
tua peténtem suffrágia, esse derelíctum.
Ego tali animátus confidéntia,
ad te, Virgo Vírginum, Mater,
curro, ad te vénio,
coram te gemens peccátor assísto.
Noli, Mater Verbi, verba mea despícere;
sed áudi propítia et exáudi. Amen.
Related pages on this site:
The Annunciation | The Angelus | The Rosary | Regina Cæli - Salve Regina |
Litany of Blessed Virgin Mary | Magnificat -Prayer of the Virgin Mary | Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
MARY - Marian Feast Days & Prayers Contents Page
Pope John Paul II ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE
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