The Hail Mary (Ave Maria in Latin) is a traditional Catholic prayer asking for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. In Roman Catholicism, the prayer forms the basis of the Rosary and the Angelus prayer.
The Hail Mary is composed of three parts. The first two parts are from the New Testament written by Saint Luke.
“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee” (Luke 1:28), are the greetings of the Angel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation.
“Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (Luke 1:42), are the greetings of Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, who was soon to become the mother of St. John the Baptist. These words were spoken at the Visitation.
The words “Mary” and “Jesus” along with “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” were added by the Church.
These three parts together form the Hail Mary Prayer, which is the most commonly used prayer among Christians, especially Roman Catholics.
This prayer literally came from heaven, as it was first pronounced for human ears by the Archangel Gabriel when he appeared to the young virgin, to receive her consent to be the mother of our Savior.
The Hail Mary prayer is especially powerful because it includes our whole life from the present instant, “now,” to our last instant: “the hour of our death.” Someday those two moments will become the same moment, our last. How blessed we will be in that hour to have prayed this wonderful prayer faithfully and often, echoing heaven and all the faithful on earth down through the ages!
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of our death.
‘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. The second entrusts the supplications and praises of the children of God to the Mother of Jesus, because she now knows the humanity which, in her, the Son of God espoused. ‘
– from the Catechism of the Catholic Church; 2675.