Hail Mary

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Hail Mary:

see Ave MariaAve Maria
[Lat.,=hail, Mary], prayer to the Virgin Mary universal among Roman Catholics, also called the Ave, the Hail Mary, and the Angelic Salutation. The words in English are: "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the
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Figure of the Virgin Mary at a roadside shrine at Mamore Gap in County Donegal, Ireland. The prayer known as “Hail Mary” began to evolve during the Middle Ages. Fortean Picture Library.

Hail Mary

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Two great prayers of the Catholic tradition are known by their opening words. The first, often called the "Our Father," is addressed to God. The second, referred to as the "Hail Mary," is addressed to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

The words come from the salutation of the angel Gabriel when he appeared to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus: "Hail, favored one, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women" (Luke 1:28). These words became the opening line of the prayer: "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee."

The prayer seems to have begun to evolve in the Middle Ages when Mary, it is believed, began to appear to Christians, attesting to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. As years went by, the second portion of the prayer was added, a direct quote from Luke 1:42. Here, Elizabeth, "kinswoman" to Mary and the mother of John the Baptist, greets Mary with the words, "Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb."

Finally, some time in the fifteenth century, the final phrase was added: "Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death."

At the crucifixion, Jesus entrusted his mother into the care of the disciple generally thought to be Saint John, the apostle. Jesus said to her, "Woman, behold thy son." But more important, he entrusted the disciple into the care of his mother when he said, "Behold thy mother." Catholics believe that act established a precedent. So the Hail Mary is now recited as a reminder and plea to Mary that she is to bring sinners into the presence of Christ upon their death.

During the sixteenth century it became the custom to recite the Hail Mary 150 times in a series of ten repetitions called a "decade," interspersed with prayers recalling the mysteries of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. That was the practice that evolved into the great prayer cycle called the Rosary (see Rosary).

Hail Mary

1. RC Church a prayer to the Virgin Mary, based on the salutations of the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:28) and Elizabeth (Luke 1:42) to her
2. American football Slang a very long high pass into the end zone, made in the final seconds of a half or of a game