How to Pray the Hail Mary

Hallow app How to pray Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
blessed are thou amongst 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.

Words of the Hail Mary Prayer

Table of Contents

What is the Hail Mary?

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 

Luke 1:30-33

The Hail Mary is a Scripture-based prayer in which we meditate on words from the Gospel of Luke. In the second half of the prayer, we ask Mary to intercede for us and bring us closer to her Son, Jesus.

It’s also the heart of the Rosary, in which we pray with Mary while contemplating the sacred mysteries, or significant moments, of Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection.

The Hail Mary is traditionally prayed by Catholics, but many people (both Christian and non-Christian) feel drawn to Mary. They recognize her powerful witness as a faithful disciple of Christ and seek her aid as a compassionate spiritual mother.

Along with the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father), the Hail Mary is one of the first prayers that Catholics learn in their journeys of faith.

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The Hail Mary is rooted in Scripture — the initial lines are taken directly from the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke. We read that God sends the Angel Gabriel to proclaim to the Virgin Mary that she is to bear the Son of God. Upon coming to her, the Angel greets Mary, saying, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). We address Mary in the same way at the beginning of our prayer.

Mary gives her full consent to God’s plan of salvation, and the Angel departs from her. Then she sets out in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who, in her old age, is six months pregnant with a son; “for nothing will be impossible for God” (Luke 1:37).

As soon as Mary enters the house and greets Elizabeth, the infant leaps in her womb.

And Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Luke 1:41b-43

Initially adapted from Scripture in Latin, we recognize the many verses from Luke that form the Hail Mary in English today.

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Icon of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Wikipedia)

Housed in the Church of Saint Alphonse of Liguori in Rome, legend holds that St. Luke was the original painter of this icon of the beautiful Virgin Mary.

Why do Catholics pray the Hail Mary?

To trust God as Mary did

Each time we pray the Hail Mary, we recognize the holiness of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her unhesitating, unwavering acceptance of God’s will for her life. Theologians call Mary’s beautiful “Yes” to God at the Annunciation her “fiat” — Latin for “let it be done.” At every moment, Mary placed her complete trust in God’s plan for the world. When we pray, we remember her humble “yes” and seek to have the same disposition before God in our relationships with Him.

To ask Mary for her guidance and prayers

St. Padre Pio said, “Abandon yourself in the hands of Mary. She will take care of you.” When we pray the Hail Mary, we abandon ourselves to Mary, who is not only Jesus’ mother but ours as well. Before his death on the cross, Jesus entrusted all of his disciples to Mary and her spiritual maternity (John 19:26-27). So we trust that, as our greatest intercessor in Heaven, she is praying for us without ceasing.

To know Christ more fully

One thing is clear: although the repeated Hail Mary is addressed directly to Mary, it is to Jesus that the act of love is ultimately directed, with her and through her.

Pope St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae Apostolic Letter (2002)

God chose Mary as the singular vessel for His Son to come down to earth and save the world. In our faith, we do not worship Mary; she remains a creature, beloved by God. But we do honor her because she is the “disciple par excellence” – the perfect follower of Jesus. Everything she is and does points to him. So through her, who knew him best, we come to know Christ more fully.

When do we pray the Hail Mary?

The Hail Mary can be prayed as an individual prayer at any time.

It is also commonly prayed in a series of ten within the Rosary; to say ten Hail Mary’s is to say a “decade” of the Rosary. This repetition is not a recitation of empty phrases, but rather, a form of meditation–being drawn deeper into the mystery of Jesus, using words from Scripture.

(Of course, the Hail Mary has also been known to be uttered during the final seconds of American football games, too!)

Hail Mary in other languages

Praying the Hail Mary in languages other than English can help us feel united with our brothers and sisters in faith who have recited the prayer across centuries:

Hail Mary (Latin)

Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae.

Hail Mary prayer in Latin

Hail Mary (Spanish)

Dios te salve, María, llena eres de gracia,
el Señor es contigo.
Bendita eres entre todas las mujeres,
y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre, Jesús.
Santa María, Madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros, pecadores,
ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.

Hail Mary prayer in Spanish

Hail Mary (Italian)

Ave, o Maria, piena di grazia, il Signore è con te.
Tu sei benedetta fra le donne
e benedetto è il frutto del tuo seno, Gesù.
Santa Maria, Madre di Dio, prega per noi peccatori,
adesso e nell’ora della nostra morte.

Hail Mary prayer in Italian

The Hallow app is full of Marian prayers. Download it and start praying now.

Hail Mary Prayer in Songs

The words of the Hail Mary—both simple and profound—have inspired numerous hymns and devotional songs through the centuries.

Music can be a powerful form of prayer, and songs incorporating words from the Hail Mary have an especially rich tradition in the Catholic faith.

Hymns dedicated to Mary can enrich our prayer lives at any time, but they’re also popular choices for the liturgical music of key feasts in the Church, such as the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Jan. 1), the Annunciation (Mar. 25), the Assumption (Aug. 15), Our Lady of the Rosary (Oct. 7) and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8).

Some of the more popular Marian songs that capture the words and meaning of the Hail Mary prayer include:

“Hail Mary, Gentle Woman” (by Carey Landry)Listen on Youtube

“Ave Maria” (Franz Schubert)Listen on Youtube

You can pray the Hail Mary in full or meditate on these powerful words line-by-line. Below, we offer a few meanings behind each line of the Hail Mary. Through personal prayer, however, these words may speak to you in different ways. If you already know the Hail Mary by heart, consider praying it through Lectio Divina to renew your relationship with this devotion.

Follow the lines below to pray with the Hail Mary step-by-step:

Time needed: 1 minute

How to Pray the Hail Mary

  1. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;

    And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28)

    When the Angel Gabriel greets Mary, he proclaims her favor with God, her state as being full of grace. He recognizes her as the one who was immaculately conceived, having been redeemed by the merits of Jesus in preparation of bearing him in her womb. In this first line, we recognize her in this way as well.

  2. blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

    When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1:42)

    Luke’s Gospel records these words spoken by Elizabeth when she is visited by Mary. Like Elizabeth, we joyfully reverence the holiness of both Mary and the child in her womb. And we call him by name: Jesus, whose name means “God saves.”

    Dr. Edward Sri reflects, “Here is immense power in the name of Jesus, and his name is at the very center of this prayer, making it literally a Christo-centric prayer.”

  3. Holy Mary, Mother of God,

    Mary is known by many titles — Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin, Queen of Heaven — and here we name her the “Mother of God.” More than anything, this great title emphasizes the profound truth about who Jesus is – both fully God and fully man.

  4. pray for us sinners

    In humility, we recognize ourselves as sinners, and we come to Mary in need. We call on her, who lives in perfect communion with God, to pray to Him on our behalf.

  5. now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

    We ask her to pray for us now, in this moment of our Hail Mary, and at the hour of our death, when we can no longer say the words. We ask her to bring us to Heaven, where we can reside with her and all the saints in praise of God for all eternity.

    Then we conclude, as we do in all other prayers, with this word meaning “So be it.” Saying “Amen” is a testament to our belief in the truth and holiness of these words spoken by the Church through the centuries.

You can pray the Hail Mary as a short prayer, in a decade, or in the full Rosary on the Hallow App. We look forward to praying with you!

Let Mary’s mighty fiat inspire your life. 

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