An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

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Hail Mary

Prayer addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The first two of its three parts are drawn from the salutation of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" (Lk 1:28, RSV); and Elizabeth's words to Mary at the Visitation, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!" (Lk 1:42, RSV). These verses have been used as a single formula in Christian liturgy since the sixth century. They were used in the Roman antiphonary in the seventh century as an offertory text for the feast of the Annunciation, for the Ember Wednesday of Advent, and for the Fourth Sunday of Advent. The two verses were a popular devotion by the eleventh century. The third part of the Hail Mary is the concluding petition, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen." Various concluding prayers for this devotion were added in the fifteenth century. The concluding petition in its present form has been dated from the sixteenth century. The Hail Mary is also known as the Angelic Salutation. Its Latin form is Ave Maria. The Hail Mary is used in other Christian devotions, such as the Angelus and the Rosary.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.