The Hail Mary

As a child growing up Catholic, I was taught to pray to the Virgin Mary using the prayer called the “Hail Mary.” In high school, I studied Latin and learned the words of the Hail Mary in Latin, the Ave Maria. Those words are as follows:

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.


The words in English:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord be with you. Blessed art 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. Amen

The name “Hail Mary” is well-known to the non-religious public because of its use to describe a desperate football pass that saves the game. According to, “In 1975, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach popularized the term ‘Hail Mary’ to describe his miracle, winning touchdown pass to fellow Pro Football Hall of Famer Drew Pearson in a playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings. Hail Mary thus became ingrained in the American sports lexicon . . .”

Even today, people still describe a last-minute frantic action that saves the day as a “Hail Mary pass.”

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