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Hail Mary | Understanding the Hail Mary Prayer

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

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.

Ave Maria is Latin for “Hail Mary”

Roman Catholics see the Hail Mary as the oldest Christian prayer 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.” The Hail Mary is used in the Catholic rosary as well.

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.

Hour of Our Death

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!

Download our Printable PDF Hail Mary Prayer in English

Image of the Hail Mary Prayer Printable PDF in English

Download our Printable PDF Hail Mary Prayer in Spanish


Image of the Hail Mary Prayer in Spanish Printable PDF

Does the Catholic Church Idolize Mary?

Favorite Marian Prayers

Download our free PDF printable sheet of the most beloved Marian prayers including the Hail Mary prayer, the Angelus, the Memorare, Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen), and the Magnificat.

favorite Marian prayers thumbnail image | Hail Mary, The Angelus, The Memorare, Salve Regina, The Magnificat

More Resources on the Mother of Jesus

Understanding Mary Video Series

Sign up for our free video series “Understanding Mary” with Senior Apologist, Tim Staples. You’ll learn about topics such as “Holy Mary, Mother of God,” Luke 1:28, Luke 1:42, and how the Virgin Mary can be sinless in light of Romans 3:23.

Shop for Catholic materials related to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Bible Mary: The Mother of Jesus in the Word of God | When it comes to the Catholic Church’s teachings about Mary, there’s one question you hear more than any other: Where is that in the Bible? This book pulls back the pages of Sacred Scripture to reveal a portrait of Mary that has been hiding in plain sight since the time of Christ.

Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines by Tim Staples.

20 Answers: Mary | Find quick, easy-to-understand info with strong points, convincing arguments, and simple explanations, all in one little booklet.

Scapular Our Lady of Mt. Carmel | Understanding the Hail Mary PrayerScapulars, Rosaries, Metals, and other great gifts like puzzles all on the Catholic Answers Shop (shop.catholic.com).

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