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Madonna and Child with Angeles, Duccio, 1282

Three Hail Marys is a traditional Roman Catholic devotional practice of reciting three Hail Marys as a petition for purity and other virtues. It is recommended that it be prayed before going to bed, and after the examination of conscience at night. This prayer has been recommended by St Anthony of Padua, St Alphonsus Liguori, and St Leonard of Port Maurice. Two saints, Mechtilde and Gertrude, have received revelations from the Blessed Virgin Mary on the excellence of this practice.


Early practice

This practice was done by Franciscans and eventually developed into the Angelus prayer.

One of the first to practice this and to recommend it was St Anthony of Padua (1195–1231). His purpose was "to honor the spotless Virginity of Mary and to preserve a perfect purity of mind, heart and body in the midst of the dangers of the world".

Revelations from the Blessed Virgin Mary

St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) was one of the first to recommend this practice

St Mechtilde (1241-1298), a Benedictine nun, claimed she had received a private revelation from the Virgin Mary on how the Three Hail Marys honor the three persons of the Blessed Trinity. This was the prayer that she said she had been taught:

Hail, Mary, etc. O Holy Mary! Our sovereign Queen! as God the Father, by his omnipotence, has made thee most powerful, so assist us at the hour of our death, by defending us against all the power that is contrary to thine. Hail, Mary, etc.
O Holy Mary! our sovereign Queen! as God the Son has endowed thee with so much knowledge and splendor, that it enlightens all Heaven, so in the hour of our death, illumine and strengthen our souls with the knowledge of the true faith, that they be not perverted by error or pernicious ignorance. Hail, Mary, etc.
O Holy Mary! our sovereign Queen! as the Holy Ghost has plentifully replenished thee with the love of God, so instil into us at the hour of our death, the sweetness of divine love, that all bitterness at that time may become acceptable and pleasant to us Hail, Mary, etc. [1]

According to St. Gertrude (1256–1301), the Blessed Virgin Mary promised the following: "To any soul who faithfully prays the Three Hail Marys I will appear at the hour of death in a splendor of beauty so extraordinary that it will fill the soul with Heavenly consolation."

Other recommendations

Later on, St Leonard of Port Maurice "had the three Ave Marias recited morning and evening in honor of Mary Immaculate, to obtain the grace of avoiding all mortal sins during the day or and night; moreover, he promised in a special manner eternal salvation to all those who proved constantly faithful to this practice."

Doctor of the Church St Alphonsus Liguori (1696–1787) adopted this pious practice and highly recommended it. He told parents to train their children to acquire the habit of saying three Hail Marys in the morning and evening. After each Hail Mary, he advice that the following prayer be said: "By thy pure and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy."

According to the St Martha Catholic Church of the Pallottine Fathers, after Night Prayers: "Many saints have had the practice of adding three Hail Marys here in honor of Mary's purity for the grace of a chaste and holy life."[1] Thus, it has been recommended as a daily practice for people who have received confirmation that they pray the Three Hail Marys for "purity of mind, heart and body" after examination of conscience, before going to bed. [2]


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