1. A devotion to the Hail Mary prayer can be traced to the 1100s.
Abbot Baldwin, the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1184 wrote about a devotion to the ‘Hail Mary’ prayer and said, “To this salutation of the Angel, by which we daily greet the most Blessed Virgin, with such devotion as we may, we are accustomed to add the words, “and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,” by which clause Elizabeth at a later time, on hearing the Virgin’s salutation to her, caught up and completed, as it were, the Angel’s words, saying: “Blessed are thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”
2. The Hail Mary started out as a greeting among Christians
In addition to using the words of the Hail Mary as a greeting, many Christian would show a sign of reverence at her name. St. Aybert in the 1100s was said to say 150 Hail Mary prayers everyday, which was accompanied by 100 genuflections.
3. During the Protestant Reformation, devotion to the Hail Mary was only a private practice
During the reformation, many opponents of the Catholic Church accused Catholics that their recitation of the Hail Mary was not a prayer because it was not a petition but simply a greeting. The Hail Mary was then recited privately, and many of those who said it would add the words “Ventris Tui Jesus” onto the end of the prayer as well.
4. The Hail Mary as we know it can be found in books from the 1400s
Dominican reformer Girolamo Savonarola wrote a piece in 1495 that contained the entire Hail Mary except the word ‘nostrae.’ There is currently a copy of this work in the British Museum.
5. In Ireland, some Catholics end with the word “Jesus.”
Some Irish Catholics only pray, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” When given the Hail Mary for penance, clarification is needed for some if they should also say the “Holy Mary” as well.
6. 100 years ago, the words of the Hail Mary were a little bit different
Catholics today say “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” But that is a recent development, as it was common practice to say “Hail Mary, full of grace, our Lord is with thee.” Cardinal Wisemanin was one Catholic voice who strongly wished Catholics to return to the formerly practiced wording. (Essays on Various Subjects, I, 76)
7. The Hail Mary is especially powerful during our last minutes here on earth
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” There is no greater companion to have alongside us during our journey into the next life than Mary, the Mother of God.
8. The Saints are huge fans of the Hail Mary prayer
Saint Jerome once wrote, “the truths contained in the Hail Mary are so sublime, so wonderful that no man or Angel could fully understand them.” Saint Thomas Aquinas, a great doctor of the Church once preached only on the Hail Mary prayer for 40 days straight.
9. Praying the Hail Mary helps us to trust Mary more
“Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the “Mother of Mercy,” the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender “the hour of our death” wholly to her care” (Catechism of the Catholic church, Paragraph 2677).
10. The Prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayers of Mary
“We can pray with and to [Mary]. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 2679)
11. The words of the Hail Mary are founded in scripture
Saint Elizabeth and the Angel Gabriel tag-team for a majority of the words of the Hail Mary. Pray with the saints and angels to our Blessed Mother today!