The Hail Mary Prayer
The Hail Mary is one of the oldest and most popular of the Catholic Marian prayers - Prayers to Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is also called the Ave Maria and the Angelic Salutation. The origins of the Ave Maria (Hail Mary) are unknown. It was not officially incorporated into the liturgy, the Rosary, until the 15th Century. The reason for this is the new wave of thinking during medieval times, the renaissance period of the 12th & 13th centuries.
This incorporated far-reaching changes in spiritual life and the growth of the reverence to the Virgin Mary - a figure relatively unimportant in the Christianity of earlier centuries. The Virgin Mary, or Madonna is portrayed in a variety of recurring symbolic themes throughout religious documents and illustrations in the Middle Ages. This was when the first part of the Hail Mary prayer evolved and is referred to as the Scriptural part. Words are taken from the Gospel of St. Luke and join together the words of the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation (Luke 1:28) with Elizabeth's greeting to Mary at the Visitation (Luke 1:42). The second half of the Hail Mary prayer "Holy Mary..." was added at sometime during the 16th century. The word "Amen" is an expression and assertion of faith used at the end of all Christian prayers and literally means "So be it".