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What is the Catholic prayer "Hail Mary"?

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Quick Answer

The Hail Mary prayer asks for the Virgin Mary's intercession. It has three parts, two of which come from the Gospel of Luke: the angel Gabriel's salutation and Elizabeth's greeting to Mary. Over time, the Catholic Church composed the third part, which requests Mary's prayers.

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Full Answer

The Hail Mary first appeared in the Western Church around 1050 A.D. The church officially added final part of the prayer by 1566. Catholics believe that the saints in heaven intercede on the believer's behalf before the throne of God. They venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary as the greatest and most powerful of all the saints.

The Hail Mary is one of the most important prayers in the Catholic rosary. It is recited at least once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once at night by Catholics who observe the Angelus prayers. Other Catholics recite the Hail Mary more frequently than others.

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