Just for Catholics

The Hail Mary

Question: Where did Roman Catholics come up with their prayer 'Hail Mary.' Is it in the Bible, or was it a prayer someone made up?

Answer: As every Catholic knows, 'Hail Mary' is a very popular prayer. It is repeated fifty times in the rosary. "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death."

This information is taken from the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

"It is commonly described as consisting of three parts. The first, "Hail (Mary) full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women", embodies the words used by the Angel Gabriel in saluting the Blessed Virgin (Luke, I, 28). The second, "and blessed is the fruit of thy womb (Jesus)", is borrowed from the Divinely inspired greeting of St. Elizabeth (Luke, I, 42)...Finally, the petition "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen," is stated by the official "Catechism of the Council of Trent" to have been framed by the Church itself."

So, the 'Hail Mary' is partly taken from Scripture and partly added by the Catholic church.

Even though the first two sentences are taken from the Bible, it does not mean that it is right to use them as a prayer. Mary could hear the salutations of the Gabriel and Elizabeth because they spoke in her immediate presence. Now Mary is dead and her soul is in heaven. She cannot hear the prayers of thousands and thousands who constantly call upon her name. Only the all-knowing God can hear the prayers of His people.

Regarding the last part of the prayer (which was added by the Catholic church), the Catechism explains its significance:

"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" (paragraph 2677).

Catholics often excuse their practice of praying to the departed (even though there is no permission or example in the Bible for doing so), saying, "You ask your Christian friend to pray for you. So what is wrong with asking Mary and the saints in heaven to pray for us too?" Apart from the obvious fact that Mary and the saints are in another place, heaven, and we have no communication with them, there is another fallacy in this argument. For when I ask my friend to pray for my needs, I am not trusting in him or committing my soul to his care. But according to the Catholic catechism, this is exactly what Catholics do when they pray to Mary.

It is so sad that Catholics are taught to 'give' themselves to and 'trust' in a fellow creature. In the Bible we are constantly taught to come to Jesus and trust in Him! Do you remember Stephen when he was about to die? To whom did he surrender the hour of his death? To Mary? or to Christ? "And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59).

I hope that you follow the teaching of the Bible, and trust in Christ for your salvation; and that you would do your best to tell Catholics that they are mistaken to trust in Mary, and that they should trust in Jesus Christ alone.

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. < BACK TO Q&A