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Hail Mary

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.

The Hail Mary is the oldest, most repeated, most imitated, and most powerful Christian prayer.

It is the oldest because it was spoken at the moment when Christ, the Son of God, was conceived in the Virgin’s womb, at the very beginning of Christianity when the divine Son of God became the human Son of his mother, Mary.

It is the most repeated prayer because it perfectly fulfills the first Christian prophecy, spoken by the same holy mother when she said, “Behold, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed.”

It is the most imitated because its structure is used constantly in Christian prayers, whether long or short, public or private. It moves from announcing and praising the work of God to asking for something because of his work just praised.

It is the most powerful prayer because right in the heart of the prayer it focuses on the holy name of Jesus, in which we ask for all we need as Jesus taught us: “Everything you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”

This prayer came literally from heaven, as it was first pronounced for human ears by the Archangel Gabriel when he appeared to Our Lady to receive her consent to be the mother of our Savior. Along with the Lord’s Prayer, with which it is usually prayed, it comes not as a mere human composition but as a prayer composed by God for our help and instruction.

And so it is that heaven has continually reminded us and even warned us that we should use this prayer often by praying the rosary each day—as Our Lady told us at Lourdes and Fatima. St. John Paul II and all the modern popes have spoken on the Hail Mary and written about it. Saints have commented on it. One can easily find online St. Thomas Aquinas’s brief and beautiful commentary.

This 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!

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