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Caitlin Kennell Kim
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Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
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Our readers asked:

Who wrote the Hail Mary prayer?

Ginny Kubitz Moyer Answers:

Actually, we owe the first half of it to the angel Gabriel and to Mary’s cousin Elizabeth. “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,” are the words of the angel when he greets Mary at the Annunciation (Luke 1:28). During the visitation, Mary’s cousin Elizabeth welcomes her with the words, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1:42). The joining of the two salutations in prayer appears to have become a widespread practice in the mid-eleventh century, though there is evidence of it showing up in eastern rites as far back as the sixth century.

The second part of the “Hail Mary” is where we ask for Mary’s intercession: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” Various forms of this go back to the fourteenth century; the wording as we use it today became official in 1568.

So in answer to your question, it’s fair to say that the Hail Mary prayer evolved out of Scripture, as well as the lived reflection of the Church in the centuries that followed. Its popularity is a testament to the continuing appeal of Mary as a helper and guide. If we want a heavenly intercessor on our side, who is better than Mary, the mother who has a personal interest in seeing her son’s work continue? As the Catechism says, “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.” (CCC2679)

 
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The Author : Ginny Kubitz Moyer
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is the author of the award-winning book Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area and blogs at randomactsofmomness.com.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Thomas O’Keefe

    Emergence of “Mary worship”
    (80:7.7) It was during this age in Crete that the mother cult of the descendants of Cain attained its greatest vogue. This cult glorified Eve in the worship of the “great mother.” Images of Eve were everywhere. Thousands of public shrines were erected throughout Crete and Asia Minor. And this mother cult persisted on down to the times of Christ, becoming later incorporated in the early Christian religion under the guise of the glorification and worship of Mary the earth mother of Jesus.

    The above quote is from the “Urantia Book” but most ancient history books can verify the existence of the ancient MOTHER CULT that existed in Asia Minor.

  • quincy jones

    what i don’t understand is why does the catholic church magnifies mary sooo much when the bible doesn’t: if you think about it people come into the catholic body because of how they portrait themselves as the first and only church but that’s not the point of christianity…. CHRIST IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN GIVE US SALVATION ,yet there are those that believe father son and holy spirit are of the same nature and purpose and therefore they ask mary to interceed for us which is not even biblical…….what also is not biblical is the mary was assumed into heaven,that was declared by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950: “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin
    Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body
    and soul into heavenly glory” (MD 44). this is not biblical

  • Ginny Kubitz Moyer

    Mary certainly doesn’t supersede the Holy Spirit. Catholics can and do pray to the Holy Spirit, but it is different from their prayers to Mary. As God, the Holy Spirit is capable of actually taking action in our lives. The Church teaches that Mary prays for us, but doesn’t make things happen herself; that’s God’s work. Praying to Mary, or any saint, is thus akin to asking a good friend to pray on our behalf … in her case, a friend who is especially close to Christ by virtue of being his mom, and being in heaven with him.

  • William Roy

    If we want a heavenly intercessor on our side, who is better than Mary, you have asked… well, what about the Holy Spirit who is always with us and never leaves us and is 1/3 of the triune God and sent by Jesus to be with us when He left us? Or does Mary supersede the person of the Holy Spirit?

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