Three Hail Marys

Help now and at the hour of death

The Three Ave before saint Mechtilde

The current form of the Three Ave devotion comes from the revelation of the Blessed Virgin to Saint Mechtilde. However, the recitation of three Ave Maria in honor of the Blessed Virgin was already common well before the 14th century. It might even date back to apostolic times.

Indeed, in her Mystical City of God, venerable Mary of Agreda (1602-1665) reports that this practice originated from the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin :

"Saint Peter and Saint John, having entered the small oratory where the body of the Immaculate Virgin lay lifeless on a bed of honor, saw a great light surrounding her and heard the angels singing 'Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum*'."

"Virgin before divine conception,
Virgin during divine conception,
Virgin after divine conception."

From then on, many faithful of the early Church had devotion to this divine praise of the most pure Mary. Since that time, it has come down to us by tradition, which we know, and the Holy Church has confirmed it.

Mystical City of God, Part III, Book VIII, Chapter XX, No. 747

In 1095, at the Council of Clermont, Urban II (1042-1099) specially recommended to all the faithful to pray the Three Ave Marias for the success of the Crusade. Around the same time, Saint Bruno (1030-1101) probably instituted among the Carthusians the practice of reciting them every day before Matins. This custom was clearly established by 1342. Later, it was recommended to resume this prayer in the morning after Lauds. Nowadays, the Carthusians recite the triple Angelic Salutation four times a day.

The practice of the three Ave Marias is also found among the Servants of Mary (Servites), at the origin of their Order founded in 1233 by seven wealthy Florentine merchants. It is also mentioned in the Ordinances of the Congregation of Bursfelde (a Benedictine reform movement of the 13th century, affecting the Holy Roman Empire) which prescribe three times the Angelic Salutation "before the night watches", "bare-headed, the body prostrate or at least inclined", and likewise after the morning Lauds. The preexistence of this devotion has also been noted in the monasteries of Gaul. Generally, the recitation took place after Matins and Compline.

Sept Saints fournisseurs

In conclusion

The Three Ave Marias, in various forms, were already widely spread at the time when the Blessed Virgin made the special revelation to the great contemplative Saint Mechtilde. But it was during this revelation that the Virgin Mary gave her the purpose of giving glory to the Most Holy Trinity, for the three great privileges of Power, Wisdom, and Mercy conferred upon her by the three Divine Persons.

Henceforth, the object became the honor of giving these privileges to Mary, and the very special aim of obtaining the grace of final perseverance.

Thanks to the widespread dissemination of the works of Saint Mechtilde, the devotion of the Three Ave Marias experienced a rapid growth. It first spread in monasteries and from there reached the faithful. Gradually, it became a common practice throughout Christendom and had many promoters and apostles.

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