The form of prayer also known as the Angelic Salutation consists of three parts: the words of the Archangel Gabriel (Lk 1.28), "Hail [Mary] full of grace, the Lord is with Thee, blessed art thou amongst women;" the words of Elizabeth (Lk 1.42), "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb [Jesus]," and a formula of petition, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen." The prayer is the result of a gradual development from the sixth century to the 16th when the present wording was adopted as general liturgical usage.
Origins. In the sixth century, the texts of the Archangel and Elizabeth are found as a single formula in the ancient liturgies of St. James, St. Mark, the Ethiopic of the 12 Apostles, and the ritual of Severus of Antioch (d. 538). To the formula have been added the words: "Because you have conceived Christ, the Redeemer of our souls"[F. E. Brightman, Liturgies Eastern and Western (Oxford 1896) 1:56, 128, 218]. This first part of the prayer appears also in two Egyptian ostraca of the sixth or seventh century (H. Leclercq, Monumenta Ecclesiae Liturgica 213,236). In the seventh century, it is found in the Roman antiphonary as an offertory text for the feast of the Annunciation, the Ember Wednesday of Advent, and the fourth Sunday of Advent. It is in this original form that it was used in the Middle Ages. It is found also in the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua (seventh–eighth century) in a mutilated inscription that accompanies a painting of the Annunciation [W. de Gruneisen, Sainte-Marie-Antique (Rome 1911) 433, 445]. Sometimes the combination of both texts as a single formula is ascribed to the Archangel Gabriel, an interpretation derived from the Latin Gospel of the pseudo-Matthew. This interesting adaptation can be seen in the ninth century hymn, Deus qui mundum crimine jacentem [G. Dreves, Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevi (Leipzig 1886–1915) 50:143]. The same erroneous observation appears in Peter of Celle, about 1157 (PL 202:654, 711, 724).
Popular Devotion. The Hail Mary was not adopted before the 11th century as a popular form of devotion. It was about this time that the practice of reciting the twofold salutation as versicles and responses in the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary developed and became diffused in monastic communities. Peter Damian called it the angelic or evangelical versicle and recommended the practice of its recitation (De Bono Suffr. 3; PL 145:564). The oldest prescription relative to the recitation of the Hail Mary is found at the end of the 12th century. Bishop Odo of Siliac in the Synod of 1198 required the clergy to see that the faithful recited not only the Our Father and the Creed but also the Hail Mary (Statuta Odonis, n.1; Mansi 22:681). Shortly after, the councils of many other nations made similar prescriptions; the practice attained such popularity that the prayer came to be regarded almost as an appendix to the Our Father.
Later Evolution. The addition of the word "Jesus" is attributed by some to Urban IV (1261–64). The second part of the Hail Mary appeared only later. Because the form consisting of the two salutations was considered merely a greeting, the need was felt for an addition of an element of petition, and the second part of the Hail Mary appeared. Through the initiative of individuals there began to appear a paraphrase of the text. St. Bernardine of Siena preached a sermon in 1427 wherein he spoke these words: "Ave Maria Jesus, Sancta Maria, mater Dei, Ora pro nobis" [Serm. 29, ed. Banchi (Siena 1884) 2:429]. The present form was introduced into the canonical hours of the Breviary by the Mercedarians in 1514, the Camaldolese in 1515, and the Franciscans in 1525, and was finally fixed in the reformed Breviary of Pius V in 1568. On March 23, 1955, by the decree Cum nostra, the obligation of its recitation in the Breviary was abrogated.
Bibliography: h. leclercq, "Prière à la Vierge Marie sur un ostraken de Louqsor," Bulletin d'ancienne littérature et d'archéologie chrétienne 2 (1912) 3–32; Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou (Paris 1907–53) 10:2043–62. h. thurston, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller et al. (Paris 1932) 1 (1932) 1161–65; e. campana, Maria nel culto cattolico, 2 v. (Turin 1933) v.1. g. m. roschini, "L'Ave Maria: note storiche," Marianum 5 (1943) 177–185. j. jungmann, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65) 1:1141. l. eisenhofer and j. lechner, The Liturgy of the Roman Rite, tr. a. j. and e. f. peeler (New York 1961) 63. p. lazzarini, Il Saluto dell'Angelico: Studio Storico, Critico, Esegetico dell'Ave Maria (Milan 1972). j.e. martins-terra, "Ave Maria à Luz do Antigo Testamento," A Oraçâo no Antigo Testamento (Sao Paulo 1974), 191–221. nicholas ayo, The Hail Mary: A Verbal Icon of Mary (Notre Dame 1994).
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Hail Mar·y • n. (pl. Hail Ma·rys) 1. a prayer to the Virgin Mary used chiefly by Roman Catholics, beginning with part of Luke 1:28. Also called Ave Maria. ∎ a recitation of such a devotional phrase or prayer: muttering Hail Marys under her breath.2. [usu. as adj.] Football a desperation long pass to try to score late in the game, typically unsuccessful: they beat the 49ers on a Hail Mary pass in the final seconds. ∎ any attempt with a small chance of success: a Hail Mary plan.
Hail Mary ★★½ Je Vous Salue Marie 1985 (R)
A modern-day virgin named Mary inexplicably becomes pregnant in this controversial film that discards notions of divinity in favor of the celebration of a lively, intellectual humanism. Godard rejects orthodox narrative structure and bourgeois prejudices. Very controversial, but not up to his breathless beginning work. In French with English subtitles. 107m/C VHS . FR SI GB Myriem Roussel, Thierry Rode, Philippe Lacoste, Manon Anderson, Juliette Binoche, Johan Leysen; D: Jean-Luc Godard; W: Jean-Luc Go-dard.
Hail Mary pass in American football, a play in which the ball is thrown far down the field; in transferred usage, a high-risk manoeuvre, especially one undertaken at a very late stage.